President George H.W. Bush has died after 94 years of a vibrant life. There is one thing that we must all admit: He served this country every second of his long life. When World War II began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, he immediately responded by enlisting as a naval aviator on his 18th birthday. He became the second youngest pilot in World War II. He served with great honor and was decorated accordingly.
His father, Prescott Bush, was his role model. As a senator representing the state of Connecticut, Prescott Bush authored the Civil Rights Act of 1957. That took a mountain of courage back in those days and it also set a lasting impression on his son George. After his service in the war, young George moved to Texas to establish a career in the oil business. With seed money from his father, he settled in Midland, Texas and soon built an empire. It would not be long before his leadership skills took over and he got into politics – like his father. He also kept an affinity for civil rights.
During his long tenure for service he served as our UN Ambassador, Congressman, Senator and even ran the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). When President Ronald Reagan chose him to be his Vice President, he was more than ready. While being one of the top leaders of our government, he made a lasting friendship with Martin Luther King Sr. He even participated in his eulogy. He always showed empathy for Black leadership. He appointed Colin Powell as commander of our military during Operation Desert Storm (Iraq War). He appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. After 27 years of service, Justice Thomas has proven to be one of the most prolific Supreme Court Justices in our history.
It was his presidency that brought on the end of the Cold War. This peaceful success was very historical and, at the time thought to be impossible. President Bush made this world a better and safer place and we all owe him for that admirable service and leadership.
His appreciation of diversity also entered the Space Race. Through his efforts our first Black astronaut, Guion Bluford, was promoted to Colonel. During this process, his activity got a little personal for our family. Our father, Charles H. DeBow Jr., became part of the original class of Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. To our surprise Vice President Bush invited our father to join other graduates of the first Tuskegee class of pilots to a ceremony celebrating the initial launch of Astronaut Bluford. He flew the families of the survivors to Cape Canaveral, Florida. He wined and dined the families and toasted, “We are here to celebrate the inaugural launch of Astronaut Bluford. It is because of what you did in World War II that led to this moment. It is like Jackie Robinson in baseball, you have led the way for Black aviation in our great nation.”
The above event was one of the happiest moments of our father’s life. Such a touching tribute for his bravery and service. His service was honored by the White House – what an honor! Vice President Bush performed this tribute with no publicity or fanfare. It was an important event that needed recognition and he did it. Such is the ilk of George H.W. Bush, History will show him as one of the greatest leaders our nation ever had. Despite all the undeserved criticism of 14the press and political rivals, he is without a doubt the epitome of what America is all about. May history correct the criticism that was thrown upon him and his family.
His legacy will certainly live on. The Bush family are natural leaders and we will enjoy their participation for decades to come. There are few American families that have contributed so much to the service of our nation. Fewer who see the need for diversity and civil rights for all. From now on let us show the respect and appreciation they deserve. President George H.W. Bush was made of the “Right Stuff”. He was a perfect example of what is right with America.
Let us thank our Lord for sending George H.W. Bush our way. Our future is now secure. May God bless the Bush family.
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the NBCC.