Tribute to America’s ‘Queen Mum’

By: Robert Lee - Contributing columnist

There is nothing but respect that I wish to bestow upon Barbara Bush.

At this time, all I can express is a numb hurt in my heart, even though the people of America feel hurt and pain also. I will never be able to understand the pain of the loss for her husband of so many years. It has to be a hurt that so few of us have ever experienced unless you have had such a long relationship with the same person.

The loss of this lady will be felt all over the world and not just in her family. Part of the reason for this pain is, in part, because she was looked upon as the grandmother of the people. America mourns the loss of this lady. Not just because she was first lady and wife of President (George W.) Bush but because we saw her as a kind woman. I can say that this is not a time for sadness, for it is not — it is a celebration of her life. She would not want tears from the nation. She would want people to remember her as part of us. A loving, caring child of God. For she is with God today and holds her 3-year-old child who passed before her. Again, sorrow is not what she would have wanted for the nation and its people.

Memories of this woman are those of kindness and caring for the people and more so for the children. Barbara Bush was not a selfish woman — she shared with the world what she had in her heart and her mind. Her legacy of love and kindness was, and is, felt by so many.

For me, if we did have royalty, Barbara Bush would have been our “Queen Mum.”

She will not be forgotten; her life and work will go forward as it should. So shed not tears on this day, place a smile on your face and remember her goodness as I do.

She did not mind telling people that her pearls were fake but she was not fake. She was a simple down-to-earth woman. She was a plain-spoken grandmother to us all. What you saw was what you got; she did not change from day to day. There was so much to this woman and her life. I find it fascinating to know that she was related to Franklin Pierce, our 14th president; she was also a fourth cousin to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was a well-known writer. Her family’s history goes back to the early colonists of New England.

Even though she was born and raised with privileges, you would never know it. When Barbara Pierce was 16, she met George Bush in 1941. To think that the two would be together for 76 years is hard to imagine in this day and time. They were just meant for each other. They would be married in 1945 while he was on leave from the Navy. The more that I have found out about this woman makes me see just how remarkable she truly was. This woman was a gift to us all and more to the world as a whole.

In 1966, she would become the wife of a U.S. Representative to Congress from Texas. Over the years, George Bush would be elected to different offices within the U.S. Congress or other governmental posts. Barbara did not sit idle. She raised her children, six of them, but was always at her husband’s side. She would become immersed in many charities and Republican women’s groups.

In 1970, George Bush would lose his bid for a second term in the Senate, but would be appointed as an ambassador to the United Nations. At this time, Barbara knew her husband would stay in the political field. It would be in 1974 that President Ford would appoint George Bush to lead the U.S Liaison Office in China. The politics of Washington would come and go. With all of the good times and bad times, she would stand fast with her husband. I know that her life in the limelight could not have been an easy thing to deal with, but she did. She never faltered. At times, she did upset the conservatives of the Republican Party — as in 1980, when she supported pro-choice. She also supported the Equal Rights Amendment. All of this would gain her favor with the American people.

Sometime in the early 1980s, Barbara took an interest in the literacy problems within our nation. She would spend time researching illiteracy. She felt that there was a relationship between illiteracy and joblessness along with homelessness. I think anyone would have to agree with her on those points. She became involved with reading organizations and served on many committees that dealt with literacy. She helped form the Foundation for Family Literacy. She helped with the generational problem of illiteracy within foreign-born immigrants. She established programs in which parents and their children would learn together. This woman tried and did help so many to learn how to read. It was all about giving them and their families a better life and future.

To honor this lady there have been several schools that have been named after her. These are in Texas and Arizona. But it does not stop there. This woman was to have a library named after her along with a children’s hospital, those being the Bush Library in Harris County, Texas, and the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine. From 1972 till 2006, Barbara Bush would receive 29 honorary degrees from across our nation. She not only believed in her own family, but she believed in the American family. Barbara Bush showed the nation the face of kindness, caring and real concern for the well-being of all people.

Because of this feeling toward the people of the world, she was more popular than those who came before her and after her, those being the other First Ladies — namely Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. You could see in this lady a graciousness. She also tried her best to avoid controversy. She was not the type of woman to stand in the bright lights and say “look at me,”, as far too many who have been in the White House have done. She was the best definition of a lady that I have ever known. Don’t get me wrong — there are, and have, been many fine ladies come to and out of Washington. But this lady’s shoes will never be filled in my eyes. She was just so special to so many people.

There would be many subjects that she felt were purely a personal matter for one to decide on their own — those being the subject of homosexuality and abortion. She had told others that it was not up to the Republican Party to take a stand on these subjects. Those were all personal convictions, not a matter for the state to involve itself in. Even though she supported abortion rights, she hated the idea of them. She had stated that she could not make that decision for anyone.

In 1984, she wrote a children’s book that dealt with dyslexia within her own family. It was not about the money, it was all about helping with literacy. All the money from that book would be given to literacy charities. This would all come from her heart. She also donated to the Bush-Clinton Fund to help with (Hurricane) Katrina’s destruction. She also would become known for her sense of humor and wit. I think it was during the 1984 presidential campaign that she told the media she could not say on television what her thoughts were about Geraldine Ferraro other than it “rhymes with rich.”

On this day there will be sadness — but there should also be happiness, for Barbara Bush stands with God.

God bless the Bush family and may God bless Barbara Bush’s American family.

Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.

Robert Lee

Contributing columnist