This week, like most Americans, I said a fond farewell to our 41st president, George H.W. Bush.
As I watched the funeral on television from my living room, it felt like I was seated in a pew near the family. There were tugs at my heart as the late president’s friends eulogized him, and when his granddaughters read from the Word of God. But the real emotion erupted when his oldest son, former President George W. Bush, spoke of his father, breaking down at the end when he honored him as being the “greatest father a son or daughter could ever have.”
I am unknown to the Bush family; just another proud and thankful American who is feeling the pain of loss the Bush family must be feeling now. So, in my mind, I was there with those in the National Cathedral, at the blessed celebration of a life well lived. And I thought: It has been a long time since our country has been this peaceful. There were no hateful tweets or nasty remarks coming from the White House these past few days. Watching the service, all seemed well with the world. Indeed, all of America and Americans seemed to be on the same page. We all mourn the loss of a great man, a friend to America and to the world.
What always struck me about No. 41, as he was affectionately called, is that he didn’t seem to know how to carry a grudge. He didn’t hold on to anger. It is a trait he seemed to have passed on to his children and grandchildren. This is noticeable in the friendship he formed with former political foe President Bill Clinton, and in the way his son and the Obamas have embraced each other. No. 41 taught his children well.
Our late President Bush had a remarkable gift: He knew the power of humor and was the first to laugh at himself. He loved colorful socks, and he loved life and lived it to the fullest. I remember chuckling at his daredevil antics of skydiving for his 85th birthday, and again when he turned 90. I can barely look down from the porch of a two-story building without feeling the fear of height. And there he was, 10 years shy of being 100, jumping out of an airplane.
I am not a Republican. And I did not vote for Mr. Bush. But I have always respected him for his values, for his love of family and his dedication and loyalty to his friends. I loved it that he and his wife Barbara, who died in April after 73 years of marriage, lived a romantic and beautiful love story and held hands to the very end.
I love that he put the love of the country above that of pettiness, and was able to seek and find common ground with those who disagreed with him politically. He was, as House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “a gentle soul.”
And I love that he was loyal to his friends to the end. His friend Alan Simpson said that at his lowest point in life, President Bush, ”lifted me.” Tears welled up in my eyes as someone spoke of how his friend James Baker stood at Bush’s bedside during the last minutes of his life and rubbed his feet.
The services for our late president were really lessons for us on how to live a good life. The celebrations seemed to bring the world together. There was no tribalism, only one nation under God. It was a celebration of a life grounded in truth and values and respect for people he didn’t agree with.
Even President Trump, who has not always been kind to the Bush family, praised the late president, calling him “a terrific guy who will be missed.”
Several others spoke of 41’s gentle soul, which housed a fierce sense of patriotism, that had him volunteering to serve his country when he was only 18. Two years later, he would be shot down by the enemy. He lost two of his men in that fight, a memory that never left him.
Thursday, after another moving send-off, President Bush’s remains were placed on a train that took him to his final resting place beside his beloved wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin. May the life he lived be an example for all Americans.
Celebrating Bishop Victor T. Curry
In what will be a wonderful celebration, the New Birth Baptist Church will honor Bishop Victor T. Curry at his 40th preaching anniversary at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church, 2300 NW 135th St. The celebration is twofold — his many years of preaching the gospel, and his remarkable recovery after a devastating stroke.
The guest preacher at the event will be internationally known preacher and gospel singer Bishop Marvin Sapp.
Curry is the founding pastor and CEO of New Birth Baptist Church. The community is invited. For more information, call the church at 305-685-3700.
New senior pastor
A warm welcome to the Rev. Willie N. Banes Jr., who recently was named the new senior pastor at the historic Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church at 245 NW Eighth St. in Overtown.
A noted preacher, teacher, and motivational speaker, Banes is said to be committed to “delivering a relevant and contemporary message focused on faith, encouragement, and empowerment.”
Barnes is a native of Lakeland, Florida, and has an undergraduate degree from Florida A & M University and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. He began his pastoral ministry in 2012 at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Deland, Florida. He has also served at Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Daytona Beach. Barnes has also served as an adjunct professor of religion at Bethune-Cookman University and as University Chaplain at Stetson University.
“It is my goal to love the people, learn from the people and then lead the people while working alongside the local community to support the needs of the downtown Miami neighborhoods and the Greater Bethel congregation,” Barnes said. “I look forward to the endless possibilities of what our working together can accomplish.” Barnes is married to Fran Reid-Barnes.
‘Husbands and Wives Sunday’
New Covenant Presbyterian Church at 4300 NW 12th Ave., will celebrate “Husbands and Wives Sunday” at during the 11 a.m., worship service on Dec. 16. Several married couples will be recognized during the service. The community is welcome.
A holiday bazaar to benefit St. Alban’s Enrichment Center will be from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Woman’s club of Coconut Grove, 2985 S. Bayshore Dr.
On sale will be gift items, clothing, Jewelry, candles, housewares, cultural goods, food, and music. There will also be a Kids’ Corner from 12:30 TO 5:30 p.m. for the little ones. There is no admission fee.