President at a time of a world in turmoil
HE was only a one-term president but George H.W. Bush was in power at such a tumultuous time in global politics that he was remembered fondly yesterday as the man who brought civility, inspiration and expansion to democracy.
Tributes flowed for the 41st US president who died on Friday night aged 94 following a long battle with a form or Parkinson’s disease.
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son, former president George W. Bush, said in a statement.
“George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best Dad a son or daughter could ask for.”
His passing comes just months after the death in April of wife Barbara – his “most beloved woman in the world” – to whom he was married for 73 years.
Mr Bush was elected in 1988 and within months into his presidency was faced with a dizzying pace of politics with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and raising a force for the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
In August 1990, he responded to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, creating a US-led international coalition which included Australia, that liberated the tiny oil-rich nation. It was during the presidency of his son that Saddam’s rule would eventually end.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “The president was a true and great friend of Australia, who fought for freedom and democracy, not only as president and throughout his public life, but as a WW2 veteran.”
President Donald Trump yesterday paid tribute to Mr Bush for his “lifetime of service to the nation” and “unflappable leadership” during the waning days of the Cold War.
“Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former president George H.W. Bush,” Mr Trump said in a statement from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service.” Former president Barack Obama said the nation had lost a patriot. He credited him with “expanding America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities and reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons to build a broad international coalition. And when democratic revolutions bloomed across Eastern Europe, it was his steady, diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but, ending the Cold War without firing a shot.” Former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev expressed his “deep condolences” to the Bush family.
Born George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, he enlisted into the military on his 18th birthday and was the youngest pilot in the US Navy when he received his wings, going on to fly 58 combat missions and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.
One saw him shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire over the Pacific, leaving him to be rescued by a US submarine.
In 1945, he married Barbara Pierce, with whom he had six children – George, Robin (who died as a child), John (Jeb), Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.
His political career saw him occupy a number of positions including congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice-president.
TRIBUTES FLOW: George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara.