July 31 (PM) – President George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum

This afternoon we toured the presidential miseum of our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.

Two of many flags which line the Barbara Bush Drive entrance road

Entrance

Patriotic Bench

Lobby

After watching a short movie on the life of the president, common at most of the presidential museums, we began our trip through the museum.

Most of the details about the President’s limo are classified, which makes sense since all work done on the cars is supervised by the Secret Service and no one without proper credentials can get too close to it.  All ground services involving the limousine are arranged by the U.S. Army. 

Still, it is known that the limo, affectionately nicknamed “the Beast”, has bullet proof windows as thick as telephone books, and bullet proof tires; if they are shot at there are wheel inserts which keep the limo driving.  There is a remote starter with a bomb detector, self-healing fuel tank, a supplemental supply of oxygen, and layers of Kevlar under the car’s sheet metal from top to bottom.

Today’s Secret service is authorized by law to protect the President, Vice President, the President-elect and the Vice President-elect and their immediate families; former Presidents and their spouses’ children of former presidents until age 16; visiting heads of foreign states or governments; and major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates.

President George’ Bush’s code name was “Timberwolf” and the First Lady’s code name was “Tranquility”.

George Bush's Parents and Family

Barbara Bush's Parents and Family

George Bush's Youth

Family had a huge impact on George Bush, as evidenced by a reference to it in his 1989 Inaugral Address.

Circa 1940 Jutebox

World War II

Radio similar to the one the Bush family heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Bush, then seventeen and still in school, decided to enter the Navy.  Six months later, having graduated from Phillips Academy, he entered the Navy on his eighteenth birthday and began preflight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His training took ten months and when he finished his training he was commissioned as an ensign in the naval reserve. Still only eighteen, he was the youngest naval aviator in the Navy.

After flight training, Bush was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51), based on USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) 

In spring 1944. San Jacinto was part of a task force that participated in operations in the Marianas in June 1944.

Some of his first missions were flying torpedo runs in crucial operations against Marcus and Wake Islands.  Later, he was also flew in missions in the Marianas. It was while returning from one of these runs, on June 19, 1943, that he experienced a forced water landing.  Ensign Bush was rescued by another ship, though the plane was not recovered. He was credited with sinking a small cargo ship along with another pilot during these missions.

On August 1, 1943, Bush was promoted to Lieutenant First Grade.  The USS San Jacinto then began attacking the Japanese in the Bonin Islands.  The plane he was flying was a Grumman-built TBM Avenger

Lt. Bush''s Avenger

Flight jacket, and helmet similar to the one worn by George Bush.  This was donated by his flight instructor

TBM Avenger Pilot Seat and Paracute

This operation went on for some time. On September 2, 1944, Bush piloted one of the four planes that attacked Chi Chi Jima. 

Photo of Bush's carrier launch for this mission

The Japanese fired back using anti-aircraft missiles.  His plane was hit, and his engine caught on fire. Despite this, he and his crewmates managed to complete the attack run, and their shots scored several direct hits that did immense damage.  He flew out several miles, and then he bailed out.  The two other crewmen on the plane were killed in action, one dying when his parachute didn't open.  Bush waited several hours in an inflatable raft, while Japanese boats were on their way to capture him.  However, other military planes circled over Bush in order to protect him, until a submarine named USS Finback

rescued him. Bush stayed on the sub for a month, and helped to rescue other pilots, before being delivered to Midway.

Lt Bush's recollection on his shootdown and rescue.

Throughout 1944, Bush flew a total of 58 combat missions. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross

Yale

He completed his studies and graduated in just 2½ years

Geroge Bush' First Baseman's Glove from his years at Yale.  During his presidency, he kept it in a drawer of his Oval Office Desk

Arrival of his first son, George W. Bush

Texas Bound

         

1947 Studebaker which took George and Barbara to Texas

Cost:  $1,625.50

George and Barbara's first home in Texas

After graduation, his father's business connections proved useful as he ventured into the oil business, starting as an oil field equipment salesman for Dresser Industries.  While working for Dresser, Bush lived in various places with his family: Odessa TX; Ventura, Bakersfield and Compton, CA; and Midland, TX.  According to his eldest so, George W. Bush, then age two, the family lived in one of the few duplexes in Odessa with an indoor bathroom, which they "shared with a couple of hookers"  Bush started the Bush-Overbey Oil Development company in 1951 and in 1953 co-founded the Zapata Petroleum Company

In 1954 he was named president of the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling.

Bush's Political Career

Bush's career in politics began in 1963 when he was elected chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.  The following year, he ran against the incumbent Democrat in the race. He presented himself as a young Conservative Republican in contrast to the aging liberal Democrat Yarborough.  He campaigned against civil rights legislation pending before Congress, stating that he believed it gave too much power to the federal government.  Bush lost the election 56% to 44%, though he did outpoll Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, who lost by an overwhelming margin to Lyndon Johnson.

In 1966, Bush was elected to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives winning 57 percent of the ballots cast in a race against Democrat Frank Briscoe, who was the district attorney of Harris County.  Bush was the first Republican to represent Houston in the U.S. House. 

His voting record in the House was generally conservative.  He voted for the Civil RIghts Act of 1968, although it was generally unpopular in his district. He supported the Nixon Administation's Vietnam policies, but broke with Republicans on the issue of birth control, which he supported. Despite being a first-term congressman, Bush was appointed to the powerfu House Ways and Means Committee where he voted to abolish the military draft.  He was elected to a second term in 1968.

Ambassador to the United Nations (1971–1973)

Following his 1970 loss, Bush was well known as a prominent Republican businessman from the "Sun Belt", a group of states in the Southern part of the country.  Nixon noticed and appreciated the sacrifice Bush had made of his Congressional position, so he appointed him Ambassador to the United Nations. He was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, and served for two years, beginning in 1971.

VETO

When I turned my back, Debbie managed to sit down with the Ambassador!

Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973–1974)

Amidst the Watergate scandal, Nixon asked Bush to become chairman of the Republican Naitonal Committee.  Bush accepted, and held this position when the popularity of both Nixon and the Republican Party plummeted.  He defended Nixon steadfastly, but later as Nixon's complicity became clear, Bush focused more on defending the Republican Party, while still maintaining loyalty to Nixon. As chairman, Bush formally requested that Nixon eventually resign for the good of the Republican party.

Envoy to China (1974–1975)

President Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be Chief of the U.S. Liason Office in the People's Republic of China.

Since the United States at the time maintained official relations with the Republic of CHina on Taiwan and not the People's Republic of China, the Liaison Office did not have the official status of an embassy and Bush did not formally hold the position of "ambassador", though he unofficially acted as one. The 14 months that he spent in China were largely seen as beneficial for U.S. China Relations.

Director of Central Intelligence (1976–1977)

In 1976 Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

He served in this role for 357 days, from January 30, 1976, to January 20, 1977. The CIA had been rocked by a series of revelations, including those based on investigations by the Church Committee regarding illegal and unauthorized activities by the CIA and Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale.  In his capacity as DCI, Bush gave national security briefings to President Jimmy Carter both as a presidential candidate and as president-elect, and discussed the possibility of remaining in that position in a Carter administration.

Vice Presidency

Bush ran for the 1980 presidential nomination but finished second to Ronal Reagan.  He then accepted Reagan's offer to run as his Vice President, a position he held for eight years.

The Ultimate Prize

In 1988, George Bush ran for and was nominated as the GOP's presidential candidate which he won in a landslide.

The pinnacle of George Bush's presidency was his putting together a multi-national coallition for the liberation of Kuwait to evict Saddam Hussein trom Kuawit

Patriot (l) and and Scud (r) missles

Abrams M1A1 Tank (full scale model)

George H.W. Bush was a one-term president.  Because of this, his accomplishments are often overlooked or minimized.  However, he undertook many actions, especially in the area of foreign policy.

His most important foreign policy accomplishments were:

  • The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War
  • The First Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm

Important domestic policy achievements include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
  • The Clean Air Act (1990)

The Bush White House

Oval Office

Finally, someone you can trust in the Oval Office!

There were "windows" under the White House facade through which we could look into the following  rooms.

Cabinet Room

State Dining Room

Bush Era Dinner Plate

Hallways

East Room

Green Room

Blue Room

Red Room

Camp David

Section of the Berlin Wall

Bush's Phone Diplomacy

Bush's Secure Phone

The 1992 Election

American presidential election, 1992

 

presidential candidate

political party

electoral votes

popular votes

Bill Clinton

Democratic

370

44,909,889

George Bush

Republican

168

39,104,545

Ross Perot

Independent

 

19,742,267

Andre V. Marrou

Libertarian

 

291,628

James “Bo” Gritz

Populist

 

107,002

Lenora B. Fulani

New Alliance

 

73,708

Howard Phillips

U.S. Taxpayers

 

43,398

John Hagelin

Natural Law

 

39,163

Ron Daniels

Peace and Freedom

 

27,969

Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Economic Recovery

 

26,334

James Mac Warren

Socialist Workers

 

23,091

A tribute to Barbara Bush on her passing earlier this year

Included are a pair of George Bush's socks recognizing her charitable works

Some of the Hundreds of White House Gifts

(as with many other exhibits, the gifts are on display behind glass, causing distracting reflections)

George Bush's 28' cigarette boat which he kept at the family home in Kennebuckport, ME

.

George Bush's Famous Sock Collection

Jumping out of Damaged and Perfectly Good Airplanes

Parachute and helmet George Bush Used in Recent Jumps

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)

The ultiamte honor:  USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is the tenth and final Nimitz-class supercarrier.

Displacement:

102,000 tons

Length:

Overall: 1,092 feet

Waterline: 1,040 feet

Beam:

Overall: 252 feet

Waterline: 134 feet

Draft:

Maximum navigational: 37 feet

After leaving the museum, we walked around the grounds.

President George H. W. Bush

Sculpture; "The Day the Wall Came Down"

Exterior Columns

Walkway blocks acknowleging donors to the Library & Museum – this one recognizing former first lady Lady Bird Johnson

A quote from President Bush's Inaugral Speech

Presidential "Catch and Release" Pond

Bush Family Burial Plot

 

Seen are the graves of Barbara Bush (r) and their daughter Robin (l)

We both agree that this was one of the better of the 13 presidential libraries and museums (we've now visited 12)  administered by the National Park Service … in part as it effectively covers the extraordiinary life of George H.W. Bush as a person as much as trying to bolster his political legacy  … and the emphasis on Barbara Bush and her many commitments to learning, charitable causes and the less fortunate.

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