12: George H. W. Bush

12: George H. W. Bush

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 12 •

41st President of the United States

The Bush family has been privileged to know and cross paths with Billy Graham on numerous occasions through the years.

One of the most memorable occurred when my mother — whose faith was strong, whose knowledge of the Bible was great, and whose life was full of Christian love — invited Dr. Graham to walk across from our house to her little bungalow for a private breakfast. Billy had always been so kind and considerate to my beloved mother. The two of them sat quietly and read some Bible passages, and Billy said a prayer. Later that day Mother said to me, “That was the most glorious time in my life.” She loved the man. All Bushes do.

The day I was sworn in as President, my ailing mother was watching the parade from the window of the Queen’s Bedroom in the White House. Dr. Graham saw her and left the parade to sit next to her and keep her company.

Billy came to stay with Barbara and me at the White House on the eve of the air war against Iraq. I told him what I was then having to do — our diplomacy and our quest for a peaceful solution having failed. I told him when the first cruise missiles would hit Baghdad, and we watched in wonder as the war to liberate Kuwait began. Just the three of us were there. Billy said a little prayer for our troops and for the innocents who might be killed. The next day we attended a church service at Fort Meade. His very presence brought great comfort to the people in uniform who were praying at that special service.

I cannot begin to tell what Billy’s presence and his faith meant to me as President and as Commander in Chief. His own beliefs and abiding faith gave me great strength.

As other Presidents can attest, Billy was always considerate of administrations in Washington, not wanting to cause problems by traveling to places where a visit from him might complicate our foreign policy or relations with a specific country. Once he called me about a trip to Russia he was planning to take and asked, “Do you think the trip would make things more difficult for the administration?”

Of course I said, “No, go on your trip.” He went and indeed I truly believe that visit gave hope to those in Russia who craved religious freedom. He did the same in China and Korea. His message of faith and love resonates wherever he goes.

The Bush family is indeed blessed to call this great man a friend. We love him as a brother; our sons and daughter love him as a father; and all of us love him as a wise counselor.

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