Great states­man, pa­triot and war hero ‘had no fear of death’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Caro­line Gra­ham

FOR­MER US Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s grand­daugh­ter last night told how he had no fear of death be­cause he’d be ‘re­united with the peo­ple I’ve lost’.

Re­call­ing their fi­nal con­ver­sa­tion, Jenna Bush Hager said: ‘I had the op­por­tu­nity to talk with my grandpa about the af­ter­life. He an­swered with­out any hes­i­ta­tion, “Yes, I think about it. I used to be afraid. I used to be scared of dy­ing. I used to worry about death. But now in some ways I look for­ward to it.”

‘And I started cry­ing. I man­aged to choke out, “Well, why? What do you look for­ward to?” And he said, “Well, when I die I’m go­ing to be re­united with the peo­ple that I’ve lost.”’

Mrs Bush Hager spoke as tributes poured in for Amer­ica’s 41st pres­i­dent who died at his Texas home on Fri­day – eight months af­ter his beloved wife Bar­bara passed away.

Bush was pres­i­dent from 1989 to 1993, a pe­riod which saw the fi­nal days of the Cold War, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War. He was a fa­ther of six – in­clud­ing son Ge­orge W. Bush, who served as the 43rd pres­i­dent – grand­fa­ther of 17 and a great-grand­fa­ther of eight.

In a state­ment af­ter the death of his fa­ther, who suf­fered from a form of Parkin­son’s dis­ease, Ge­orge W. Bush said: ‘Af­ter 94 re­mark­able years our dear dad has died. [He] was a man of the high­est char­ac­ter and the best dad a son or daugh­ter could ask for.’

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has been pub­licly crit­i­cal of the Bush fam­ily, praised Bush’s ‘es­sen­tial authen­tic­ity, dis­arm­ing wit and un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to faith, fam­ily and coun­try’.

Bill Clin­ton, who once de­scribed Bush as ‘the fa­ther I never had’, re­called a let­ter left in the Oval Of­fice for him by Bush af­ter los­ing the hard­fought 1992 elec­tion that read: ‘When I walked into this of­fice just now I felt the same sense of won­der and re­spect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that too. Your suc­cess now is a coun­try’s suc­cess. I am root­ing hard for you.’

Theresa May de­scribed him as ‘a great states­man and a true friend of our coun­try’ and Barack Obama said that Amer­ica had ‘lost a pa­triot and hum­ble ser­vant’.

Bush will be buried be­side his wife and daugh­ter, Robin, who died of leukaemia aged three in 1953. Born on June 12, 1924, in Mil­ton, Mas­sachusetts, Bush was the son of a steel mag­nate. Aged 18 he be­came the youngest fighter pi­lot in the US Navy and flew 58 com­bat mis­sions in the Se­cond World War and sur­vived be­ing shot down by the Ja­pa­nese.

Af­ter mar­ry­ing Bar­bara in 1945, he made a for­tune in the oil in­dus­try be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics, first as a con­gress­man, then as head of the CIA and vice-pres­i­dent. His sin­gle-term pres­i­dency was dom­i­nated by the col­lapse of com­mu­nism and the first Gulf War.

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