The life and legacy of George H.W. Bush

The former president who put country above party died at the age of 94.
10:04 | 12/01/18

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Transcript for The life and legacy of George H.W. Bush
George Herbert walker bush, the 41st president of the united States has died. He was 94 years old. Patriarch of of the most powerful political dynasies in history. His son serving as 43rd president. President bush dying just seven months and 13 days after his beloved wife, Barbara, passed away. Bush 41 as he is often referred to was the last president of the greatest generation. He pursued a life of extraordinary service. A man who put country above party and family above everything. President bush faced victory and defeat and tragedy and triumph with modesty, humor, and uncommon grace. David Muir looks back at the life and legacy of this American president. George Herbert walker bush, America's 41st president. Born June 12th, 19 twenty-four in Milton, Massachusetts. One of five children. He was the son of a banker and a politician. He would later meet Barbara pierce at a Christmas dance. He was the first boy she would kiss. The following year on his 18th birthday, George enlisted in the war becoming the youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy. George and Barbara would keep up their long distance romance with love letters to his darling bar. Two years in, he was shot down over the pacific. I knew if I wasn't rescued I would be captured, and it was a harrowing experience. But he was rescued and he made it home to Barbara. He attended Yale as the captain and first baseman of the baseball team. He and Barbara would have six children. George, Jeb, Marvin and Neal and two girls, doerthy and robin, who died of leukemia in 1953. It was a loss that broke both of them. She adored them. What was it that pulled you back up afterwards? He was very strong then. He was wonderful. They moved the family to Texas where he ran a successful oil business. Then, he would enter politics. George Bush, the happy family man is George Bush, Republican candidate for the United States senate. He would later run for president in 1980. That's why I want to be president. I need your help and that's why I think I will be. Ronald Reagan and the peninsula. He would serve eight years as his loyal vice president and run again and he won as a moderate. I want a Kinder and gentler nation. As president, when Saddam hussein invaded Kuwait, it was George H.W. Bush who pulled a coalition of allies, launching operation desert storm. Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. With the economy being tested, there was a promise he made four years earlier that came back to haunt him when he ran for reelection. Read my lips. No new taxes. He would lose to Bill Clinton and it stung. Describing the loss to Diane sawyer. I had a great feeling of letting down a lot of people. A lot of people that worked for me. I had this ghastly feeling you let them down and you get over it and go on with your life. He would leave a letter saying I never felt the loneliness presidents described. I wish your family well. Your success is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you. He would build an unlikely friendship together with bill Clinton, they would raise money for the victims of the tsunami and here at home after Katrina. It was a good sign because you run against somebody, it doesn't make you an enemy. He would continue to endear himself to the American people, proving he was forever young, jumping from a plane on his birthday. He and Barbara were married 73 years, the longest of any president and first lady, and we would learn he was holding her hand until the very end. He bid farewell to his beloved Barbara. The Clintons and Obamas and Melania trump by his side. He is the most decent, honorable, wonderful -- nobody has ever been as lucky as I have. I want people remembering him as courageous. I want them to remember him as he is. As he sat before his wife, there was sadness, but not fear as he once told Diane. I do think that you go to heaven. There is a heaven. I don't fear it though. When I was a little guy, I would fear death. I worried about it. Not anymore. There is a heaven. Our thanks to David Muir. On the phone with us tonight is presidential historian, mark. You were with the bush family this summer and wrote the book, the last Republican about the bushes. How should the nation remember this man and this president? It's three-fold. He was the last of our World War II presidents and first being John F. Kennedy and the last was George H.W. Bush and left office in 1993. He embodied the best of the greatest generation. He was a president we needed in place to preside over the world at the end of the cold war which ended eafl peacefully due in large part due to his diplomatic skills. He was the patriarch of the bush dynasty. Talk about his relationship with president bush, the man who defeated him. It was a contentious election. President Clinton. They seemed to form a friendship. They're did. An unlikely friendship. That happened in the millennium. George W. Bush's eldest child succeeded him in the presidency. He and Clinton together toured southeast Asia after a tsunami ripped through that part of the world. When they went over together on the trip, they sort of formed this very unlikely friendship. I think a lot of it had to do with their great respect for one another. One of the things that president bush said to me is that that friendship became a dividend in his life. Very unexpected, but something he was very grateful for. One can make the argument that no modern day president had a better resume than George H.W. Bush for the job. Talk about his remarkable and service to the nation. Well, he started off running for the senate in 1964, unsuccessfully. He won a seat in his district in Houston and served two terms from 1965 to 1969. He ran for senate again unsuccessfully and became the -- went to the united nations as a diplomatic representative of the United States. He would then go to become the chairman of the GOP during watergate. A very turbulent time to be serving as the chairman of the Republican party. He wanted to be the special envoy to China. Knowing that China would see him in the world and he became the director of the CIA before leaving public life for a few years and coming back to run for president in 1980, unsuccessfully, but tapped by Ronald Reagan to be his running mate in 1980. He served two terms as vice president before achieving the presidency himself in 1988. Presidential historian, thank you so much. Appreciate your time tonight. Joining us now, ABC's cokie Roberts who covered president bush for many years. She joins us on the phone. Good evening, cokie. What are your memories of this American president? He was such an incredibly decent human being. That was true throughout his life. His mother told him don't brag, which was hard for a politician. He took it to heart and he was very self-e facing always and always putting people first. In the summer when I went to kennebunkport to do an event for the Barbara Bush literacy program. I had my 13-year-old grandson with me and president bush was in a wheelchair and not able to speak that well, but had such a good sense of humor and was so kind to my grandson that he said to me later, I think that guy got his humor with him. He just always tried desperately to do the right thing. There were times of course in his political life when he did things that you and I might have said we are not up and up always. Of course with the campaign, by by and large, the word I would use to describe him is

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