“So much has been said about his public career and what he’s given to his country and state. I am just going to talk about the man,” Bush said before the service. "My grandfather is my hero."
Good morning. Today I stand before you as the oldest grandson of the man I simply knew as "Gampy." George Herbert Walker Bush was the most gracious, most decent, most humble man that I will ever know. We are here to give thanks for his extraordinary life, but I would like to talk about some of the things that he was thankful for. The things that to him mattered most.
My grandfather was thankful for his family. When he began running for president in 1988, my grandfather released a campaign book outlining his views for the future. The book opened with a letter to a grandson. It was addressed to me and recounted some of our recent experiences together in Maine.
"P.," the letter read, I have been thinking about it a lot. The most fun was the big rock boat, climbing out on it, watching you and the well playing on it. Near the end of summer when the moon was full, the tides were high, there was that special day when it almost seemed like the boat was real.
In those few words, my grandfather said more about his life than I could ever tell you this morning. Here's a man gearing up for the role of a lifetime, and yet his mind went back to his family. This is a book about policy issues, and yet he still found time to write about an imaginary boat that he built with his grandson. And in a typical day, he would wake up around 5:00 a.m. to review security briefings and grab his first coffee of the day.
And when the coast was clear, had the grandkids would try to snag a spot on the bed and nestle up between him and Ganny when they read the paper. We all grew up with my grandfather who would we catch fly fishing off the rocks of Maine, talking up where the blue fish were running. He would be the first to host an intense horseshoe matchup among family, secret service, or any willing head of state, while encouraging trash talk like "power outage" if your horseshoe was short, or "Woodrow Wilson" if you're long and your shoe hit the wooden backstop.
His typical spread included barbecue, tacos, tamales, pork rinds with hot sauce, with a healthy complement of blue bell ice cream and Klondike bars. Always the competitor, each night Gampy challenged all of the grandkids to the coveted "first to sleep" award. In classic Gampy fashion, he would write letters of encouragement to us all, whether one of semester at school, whether one of us and for the record, not me, drove his Fidelity onto the rocks. or one of us, definitely not me, ended up in Gammy's crosshairs. I knew too much.
In the Psalms God makes this promise. "With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." Today, we know that my Gampy did enjoy a long and extraordinary life and we know he's enjoying the beginning of his next life, rejoining those whom he lost but now by grace has found again.
My grandfather was thankful for his country. He was grateful to lead a country where people can go as far and as fast as their dreams can take them, a place where individuals working alone or in groups can help the condition of their fellow man on a voluntary basis, a bright hope for America he evoked so brilliantly when he spoke of 1,000 points of light.
He often spoke about the timeless creed of duty, honor, country, the values that have sustained the republic for its over 240 years. But this wasn't something he just talked about, this was something he lived.
Having flown 58 combat missions in the pacific and having been shot down and rescued at sea, he never saw his own heroism as being any greater than anyone else who has worn the uniform. I know this because I have experienced it personally. He was proud when Walker joined the Marine Corps, when I joined the Navy. And even prouder when we served overseas. Our service never compared to his, yet we could never convince him of that.
In our times together, our big, wonderful, and competitive family saw the personal goodness that lead to his historical greatness. He left a simple yet profound legacy to his children, to his grandchildren, and to this country. Service. Undoubtedly, when the last words are written on him, they will certainly include this, that the fulfillment of a complete life cannot be achieved without service to others.
You should know that my grandfather was thankful for his God. He once told his grandkids, "God is good, but His love has a cost. We must be good to one another." It was his faith, his love for others, that fulfilled him, that drove him, that led him to a life of public service.
Here in Houston at a prayer breakfast, he once reflected on his time on the deck of the submarine Finback, which rescued him after he was shot down in World War II.
To get some fresh air, he went on the deck, stood the watch, looked out in the dark. He said the sky was clear. The stars were brilliant like a blizzard of fireflies in the night. There was a calm inner peace, halfway around the world in a war zone, a calm inner peace, God's therapy.
Today, after 94 years, the heavy hand of time has claimed the life of my Gamps, but in death as in life, my grandfather has won, for he has exchanged his earthly burdens for a heavenly home and is at peace.
Yes, George Herbert Walker Bush is the most gracious, most decent, most humble man that I will ever know, and it's the honor of a lifetime to share his name. God bless you, Gampy. until we meet again. Maybe out on the rock boat we built together.