This week, I woke, as countless people around the world did, to face the news that Barbara Bush had passed away. I had the privilege of working with Mrs. Bush in a literacy campaign and shared the stage with her on two separate occasions. While the thought of her passing is sobering, our sadness at her death is tempered by the life she lived.
She was married to her beloved George for more than 73 years. She served as First Lady of the United States with distinction and then looked on as her son served two terms as president. Observing the Oval Office from the perspective of a wife as well as a mother gave Barbara Bush a unique window on the world in the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
When I think of her, I am drawn to words such as honor and dignity. She had a marvelous way of being open and approachable while preserving her family life and keeping a distinct line between her public persona and her private persona.
Barbara Bush was fiercely committed to the concept of literacy. She felt we could never have true equality in our country until everyone not only had access to books but also had the ability to read them. She was the first person who introduced me to the concept of learning to read so we can read to learn.
Reading is the one subject in elementary education that impacts every other subject. Unless a child succeeds in reading, he or she cannot hope to succeed in history, geography, or any other subject. Through Mrs. Bush’s efforts, I had the privilege and joy of encountering people who learned to read and then completed one of my books as the first book they had ever read. All of us at one time or another have visions of making the world a better place. Giving a person the gift of reading both changes their world and opens up a whole new world for them.
The two Bush presidencies were bookends for the Clinton administration. While they were often political adversaries, they were rarely adversarial.
President Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton combined their efforts as retired presidents to raise funds for and bring awareness to worthwhile causes across the country and around the world. President George W. Bush often called upon Mr. Clinton for advice and perspective. Much of the harmony and cooperation between these two competitive and politically diverse families can be credited to the calming influence and perspective of Barbara Bush.
Mrs. Bush leaves a lasting legacy of dedication, cooperation, and literacy which is truly the gift that will go on giving for generations.
As you go through your day today, celebrate the life of Barbara Bush as you read and share a book.
Today’s the day!
About the author: Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.