Today, we observe a national day of mourning for the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Tulane has a special connection to President Bush who, along with his friend President Bill Clinton, received an honorary doctor of law and served as keynote speaker at Tulane’s first university-wide commencement following Hurricane Katrina.
The two former presidents raised millions of dollars for victims of Hurricane Katrina, dedicating some $30 million to 33 institutions of higher education across the Gulf region, including Tulane. This was just one of the many acts of public service that defined George Bush’s life. Few could question his commitment to serving his country as a Navy pilot, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, director of the CIA, two-term vice president and president.
Through the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and numerous other efforts, President Bush, whose son Neil earned his undergraduate degree and MBA from Tulane, showed what great things could happen when leaders put partisanship aside for the sake of the common good.
As he told Tulane graduates, “There are some things that are more important than politics. You get in politics — the elbows get sharp. He (Clinton) beat me fair and square, but when we come together, it has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with joining you in being what I call one of a thousand points of light.”
As the nation mourns the loss of President Bush, may the lights he saw among the Tulane community that Saturday morning back in 2006, and the others he envisioned throughout the nation, continue to burn bright.