As tributes poured in overnight from Capitol Hill as word spread of the death of President George H.W. Bush, there were perhaps none more fitting than those from the states he came to call home.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said a Navy anchor that rests in Kennebunkport, where the Bush family would spend many summers is among the most fitting tributes from a community to a neighbor.
“President Bush often called the family home at Walker’s Point his ‘anchor to windward,’ a special place of unsurpassed natural beauty in a caring community,” Collins said in a statement. “Through the years, it was been the place that gave him the strength to face the many challenges he took on in dedicated service to our country.
“It is fitting in another way. As a Navy aviator in World War II, in Congress, as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice President, and President, George H.W. Bush consistently and vigorously demonstrated the values that are the anchor of American society. Courage, duty, honor, and compassion define our nation and his life,” she added. “As he encouraged Americans to be a ‘thousand points of light’ through service to others, he shone the brightest.”
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a former governor, echoed that sentiment.
“For all his achievements, President Bush remained humble, kind, and warm. Like so many Maine people, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with President Bush during some of his trips to Kennebunkport — and like all who have had that opportunity, I will forever cherish the time we were able to share,” King said in a statement. “His passing leaves a great hole in our nation and in our state; he will be deeply missed.”
King happens to be spending the weekend at the final resting place of the man for whom Bush served as vice president, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as one of several members of Congress participating in the Reagan National Defense Forum.
Sen. Ted Cruz, from Bush’s adopted home state of Texas, noted that Bush was “the last of the Greatest Generation to sit in the Oval Office.”
“But his resolve will not be lost to the past; it will triumph onward,” Cruz said. “In his words, ‘the old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.’”
Another Texan, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, called the elder President Bush, “a truly honorable and gracious man.”
“Having adopted the state of Texas as his home as a young adult, we Texans were privileged to have him as one of our own. President Bush once said, ‘I am a Texan and an American … what more could a man ask?’ I don’t think anyone could have said it better,” Cornyn said in a statement. “His uncompromising service to Texas and this nation can never be duplicated or fully quantified, but his impact is unmistakable and his legacy everlasting.”
Republicans and Democrats joined the members of the delegations from Texas and Maine in expressing condolences as the period of mourning gets underway ahead of a state funeral.
“President George H.W. Bush will be greatly missed in many ways. He was a fine man and even when he opposed your views, you knew he was doing what he thought was best for America,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “His yearning for a kinder and gentler nation seems more needed now than when he first called for it.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the speaker-designate of the House Democrats, tweeted a photo with the former president and First Lady Barbara Bush, at an event for their Points of Life Foundation.
“George H.W. Bush’s life was defined by an inspiring commitment to public service. I am deeply grateful to his family for having shared such a wonderful man with us all,” Pelosi said. “May it be a comfort to them to know that so many Americans mourn with them.”
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