America united, at least for a few days, if not hours, to bid farewell to its 41st president, George H.W. Bush.
Present at his funeral in the magnificent National Cathedral in Washington, DC were the five former presidents, including Jimmy Carter, as well as the current president, Donald Trump.
Another service to the country by the Bush family and a positive step on the part of the current president.
It is known that relations between the Bush family and Trump were not good. But they did their duty to the nation.
For a few hours, life in the capital of the country stopped. It was time to honor and show gratitude to a leader who served the country in an exemplary way.
And it was a time that many would have liked to see the country return to its good old self in a code of political behavior that was a reflection but also an example for society instead of the current political behavior of conflict and insults.
The late President served his country in many positions. He was a veteran of World War II, the head of the CIA, his country’s representative in the United Nations, Ambassador to China, Vice President, and President.
He was therefore very well prepared to take over the country’s presidency.
And he took over in a very critical period, when the Soviet Union collapsed and a new world emerged from the debris.
But even in the Kuwait attack, to force Saddam Hussein to withdraw from that country, he pursued a policy of prudence and refused to drive all the way to Baghdad and occupy Iraq. Something that unfortunately his son did.
George Bush in his day, as is sometimes the case, was not considered an important president. He was president for only four years.
Now, however, with the passing of time, a review of his presidency is taking place. And his record looks better than before.
Apart from his contribution to the political life of the country, George Bush, like his friend Constantine Mitsotakis, left a remarkable legacy in his family life. With his wife Barbara, his five children, and his 17 grandchildren.
One of his children became president of the country and another governor of a state.
However, for us in the Greek community, the Bush presidency will forever be associated with the loss of the historic opportunity to elect a Greek-American, Michael Dukakis, president of the United States.
It was the 1988 election, when the Democratic Party candidate, then-Massachusetts governor, was ahead of his rival, Bush, by 17 points and was, in fact, regarded as the inevitable next president of the country.
It was then that Bush’s election campaign used an unacceptable – and unethical – way to defame his opponent.
They took out an attack ad against Dukakis, featuring a convicted murderer, Willie Horton, who when he was allowed a furlough from prison for a weekend raped and killed a woman and her partner, and they attributed responsibility to Dukakis, thus wiping out his lead in the polls.
In a recent statement on Bush’s passing, 85-year-old Dukakis said, in his honor, as follows:
“Look, it was my fault for not mounting a very strong defense to that and I don’t blame anybody but myself for that,” he said. “I should have done a much, much better job with dealing with that.”
This fact, which is not insignificant, now belongs to history.
To U.S. History. But especially to the history of Greek-Americans and Hellenism.
Let us hope that the next time – and there will be a next time – that a Greek is nominated as a candidate of one of the two major parties, he will draw the correct conclusions from this event and use them appropriately.