CNN Special Report “Remembering 41: President George H. W. Bush” airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
The 41st President of the United States and patriarch of a political dynasty, George H.W. Bush died on Friday in Houston. He was 94 years old. Friends, world leaders and fellow politicians are now paying tribute to the man remembered as a World War II combat pilot, a Cold War politician, and a compassionate family man.
President Donald J. Trump and first lady Melania Trump: Melania and I join with a grieving Nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away last night.
Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service — to be, in his words, “a thousand points of light” illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world.
President Bush always found a way to set the bar higher. As a young man, he captained the Yale baseball team, and then went on to serve as the youngest aviator in the United States Navy during the Second World War. Later in life, he rose to the pinnacle of American politics as a Congressman from Texas, envoy to China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice President of eight years to President Ronald Reagan, and finally President of the United States.
With sound judgement (sic), common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.
Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family — especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.
Former President Barack Obama: America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. Not merely for the years he spent as our forty-first President, but for the more than 70 years he spent in devoted service to the country he loved – from a decorated Naval aviator who nearly gave his life in World War II, to Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, with plenty of posts along the way. Ambassador to the United Nations. Director of Central Intelligence. U.S. Envoy to China. Vice President of the United States.
George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey. Expanding America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. Reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons and building a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait. And when democratic revolutions bloomed across Eastern Europe, it was his steady, diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but – ending the Cold War without firing a shot.
It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try.
After seventy-three years of marriage, George and Barbara Bush are together again now, two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example – the example of a man who, even after commanding the world’s mightiest military, once said “I got more of a kick out of being one of the founders of the YMCA in Midland, Texas back in 1952 than almost anything I’ve done.”
What a testament to the qualities that make this country great. Service to others. Commitment to leaving behind something better. Sacrifice in the name of lifting this country closer to its founding ideals. Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight – and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.
Former Vice President Al Gore: President George H.W. Bush served our nation with extraordinary integrity and grace. I will remember him for his personal kindness and for his love of this country. He earned bipartisan respect for speaking up and taking action for what he believed was right, even when doing so was unpopular. He inspired countless Americans to volunteer and improve their communities through his point of life Foundation. President Bush leaves behind an American legacy of a lifetime of service that will be revered for generations.
Former President Bill and former first lady Hillary Clinton: Hillary and I mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush, and give thanks for his great long life of service, love, and friendship. I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.
Few Americans have been—or will ever be—able to match President Bush’s record of service to the United States and the joy he took every day from it; from his military service in World War II, to his work in Congress, the United Nations, China, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice Presidency and the Presidency, where he worked to move the post Cold War world toward greater unity, peace, and freedom. He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display.
I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts. Our hearts and prayers are with George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, their families, and the entire Bush clan.
Hillary Clinton: George H.W. Bush was a beloved father (and) grandfather, a war hero, a public servant, (and) a class act. In my experiences (with) him, I always valued his desire to listen, look at evidence (and) ask for ideas, even from people (with) different beliefs. My heart goes out to the entire Bush family.
US Naval Air Forces: Naval Aviation mourns the passing of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush, a Naval Aviator, statesman, and humble public servant. His legacy lives on in those who don the cloth of our great nation and in the mighty warship which bears his name, @CVN77_GHWB. May he Rest In Peace.
Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “I express my deep condolences to the family of George H.W. Bush and all Americans over of the death of the 41st president of the United States,” he told the Russian news agency Interfax. Gorbachev and Bush worked closely to help end to the Cold War.
“I have a lot of memories associated with this person. We had a chance to work together during the years of tremendous changes. It was a dramatic time that demanded great responsibility from everyone. The result was an end to the Cold War and the nuclear arms race,” Gorbachev added.
“I pay tribute to the contribution of George H. W. Bush to this historic achievement. He was a real partner,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron: “On behalf of the French people, I convey all my condolences to the American nation for the loss of former President George Bush. He was a world leader, who strongly supported the alliance with Europe. Our sympathy to his family and beloved ones.”
Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May: “Today Britain remembers a great statesman and a true friend of our country. We send our deepest condolences to the American people and to the family he leaves behind,” the Prime Minister said Saturday.
“President George H. W. Bush’s ethos of public service was the guiding thread of his life and an example to us all. It took him from service in World War II, to his stewardship of the CIA and his direction of the Gulf War as Commander-in-Chief. And in navigating a peaceful end to the Cold War he made the world a safer place for generations to come.”
Australian Prime Minister John Howard: George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States, was in office when arguably the most momentous event in post Second World War affairs occurred - the collapse of the Communist empire of the Soviet Union.
Initially as Vice President to Ronald Reagan, and later as President himself, he played a major role in shaping those historic years.
The late President possessed an endearing sense of humor and always exhibited immense public grace. He was the patriarch of a great American family.
At all times he was a true friend of Australia. He visited our country on a number of occasions. He was the first American president to address a joint sitting of our national parliament.
I extend my deep sympathy to the late President’s family. He exemplified the best of his nation’s values in both war and peace.
Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Today, we’ve lost a great hero. George Bush was an inspiration to all Americans and we will miss him dearly. From the day he first put on his US Navy flight suit and took off into the unknown, he always put his country first. He took on many jobs throughout his long career, and all shared one distinct trait: public service. His greatest legacy is that pure American spirit, that commitment to selflessness that drove him until the very end.
He was born in a time that seemed to produce an endless supply of heroes, but make no mistake: George Bush embodied everything that made the Greatest Generation great.
I will always be grateful to him for his friendship, for embracing me and imparting just a fraction of his wisdom during our time together. Some of my fondest memories are of sledding with him at Camp David and inspiring America to join our fitness crusade by hosting the Great American Workout with him on the White House lawn and listening to his speech advice as we flew between campaign rallies. I will never forget the pride I felt the day he appointed me Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. I loved to hear him surprise people with his wild side — explaining the pure joy he felt as he flew and jumped out of planes. I also loved to hear him explain his passion for this country — it was a true love that knew no petty boundaries or party lines. He taught me so much, but most of all, he taught me the power of serving a cause greater than yourself. I count myself lucky for many reasons; but for the opportunity to call George Bush a mentor, I can’t help but think I’m the luckiest man in America.
President Bush has left us for one last flight but his destination isn’t unknown. He’s flying into the arms of the love of his life, Barbara. This evening, each of us should take a minute to look up and offer him a silent thanks.
Former President Richard Nixon’s daughters Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower: Our father believed in George H.W. Bush. Richard Nixon kicked off George Bush’s campaign for congress in 1966, encouraged him to run for senate in 1970, entrusted him as U.N. Ambassador and head of the RNC, and supported him tirelessly when he served as President for four years.
George H.W. Bush lived a life that was purposeful, and extraordinarily rewarding—for our nation, and for our world.
While people everywhere salute and thank George H.W. Bush today, we take special solace in knowing that President and Mrs. Bush are together again.
Former Vice President Joe Biden: From the moment he signed up as an 18-year-old Naval aviator a few months after Pearl Harbor and for every step after that in his lengthy career as a diplomat, Congressman, Vice President, and President – George H.W. Bush chose a path of service.
He was a man who presided over the peaceful end to the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. This was statesmanship and leadership of historic dimensions. So much could have gone wrong but instead went right because of his leadership. This is how history will rightly remember him. Every American — and arguably everybody on Earth — owes him a debt of gratitude for bring such an able steward.
Over the course of the many years we worked with together — and against each other — on the biggest issues of the day, differences of policy were always based on substance. It was never personal. It was never petty. It was always with respect for our institutions and the people they govern.
As we mourn his passing today, we remember a life totally and completely dedicated to the country he loved.
US Senator Marco Rubio: President George H.W. Bush was an American hero, a patriot and a wise and generous man. May he Rest In Peace.
Queen Elizabeth II: It was with sadness that I learned of the death of President George H W Bush last night.
President Bush was a great friend and ally of the United Kingdom. He was also a patriot, serving his country with honour and distinction in Office and during the Second World War.
Prince Philip and I remember our days in Texas in 1991 with great fondness.
My thoughts and prayers are with President Bush’s family and the American people.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: I am saddened to hear of the passing of President George H. W. Bush. On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the Bush family and the many close friends who also continue to mourn the loss of his beloved wife, Barbara.
George H. W. Bush’s lifetime of service began when he enlisted during the Second World War and became one of the youngest pilots in the U.S. Navy. His exemplary spirit of service and commitment to country would mark each of his roles – including in Congress, as ambassador to the United Nations, as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, and in the White House.
President Bush was a dedicated and thoughtful leader who stuck by his convictions and values. He did much to strengthen relations between our two countries, championing the North American Free Trade Agreement and initiatives like the fight against acid rain.
As president, he provided steady, principled leadership through a number of decisive international events.
In his retirement from public life, President Bush remained unwavering in his service to others. He raised millions of dollars for charities related to cancer and child poverty, and made considerable contributions to disaster relief efforts in Southeast Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast states.
Today, all Canadians join our American friends and neighbours in mourning the loss of a great leader and friend. George H. W. Bush’s lifetime of public service has inspired a thousand points of light. His legacy will inspire many more.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: On behalf of the people of Israel I send heartfelt condolences to the Bush family and the American People on the passing of a great American patriot, President George H.W. Bush. His wise leadership at the end of the Cold War helped steer the world to a peaceful transition and the spread of democracy. The People of Israel will always remember his commitment to Israel’s security, his important contribution to the liberation of Soviet Jewry, and his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East at the Madrid Conference.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in: Our deepest condolences to the American people on the loss of former President George H. W. Bush of the United States. President Bush dedicated himself to world peace and security by taking a leading role in ending the Cold War and reconciling the West and East, and made noble endeavors to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula and strengthen the ROK-US alliance. President George H. W. Bush will be long remembered in the hearts of the Korean people.
US Secret Service: The Secret Service sends our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Former President George H.W. Bush. Timberwolf, you defined patriotism and leadership throughout your life of service to this country and you will be sorely missed.
Former HUD Secretary and fellow Texan Julian Castro: President George Herbert Walker Bush lived an admirable life of service to country. He made a positive impact on the lives of so many Americans. May he Rest In Peace.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry: Tonight, our Nation honors the life and legacy of President @GeorgeHWBush. His unwavering service to our country and his family are unparalleled. #GigEm
Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice: President George Herbert Walker Bush was the epitome of a public servant. He loved America with all of his heart and served her as fully and completely as anyone ever has.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work for him, to learn from him and to experience his deep and abiding commitment to his fellow citizens. He was a mentor to me and a dear friend.
President Bush’s legacy is deep and broad: the many people that he touched, the difference that he made in the life of the country and the impact that he had beyond America’s shores. We will never forget his steady and inspired leadership in guiding the world to the peaceful end of the Cold War.
Now he is in God’s loving embrace with Mrs. Barbara Bush, his beloved wife of so many years. He has finished his race with honor and dignity. All who knew him and loved him – especially his remarkable family – will miss him. Yet, he lives on with us in spirit. Rest well, Mr. President.
Republican National Committee: President Bush dedicated himself to serving his country in many roles: a naval aviator, a congressman, an ambassador, RNC chairman, CIA director, vice president, and commander in chief. He stood for American strength and cared deeply for the American people, alongside his late wife Barbara. President Bush’s legacy of bold leadership, patriotism and humanitarianism will live on long after his passing. We at the RNC are praying for the entire Bush family.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: George H.W. Bush served with valor and integrity as the 41st president of the United States. But to Houstonians he was one of our most esteemed and relatable neighbors. He and his wife Barbara Bush were our sports teams’ biggest fans, and boosters for everything Houston. The Bushes could have moved anywhere after his time in public office, but they chose to return to their beloved city where he started his political career as the chair of the Harris County Republican Party.
“In statesman-like fashion, he knew the importance of reaching across the aisle to find common ground. He backed our bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He was an equal ally of former election foe President Bill Clinton in helping victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma through the One America Appeal. And I will always be grateful to the Bushes for being kind friends and advisers to me.
“For these reasons and more, I join Houstonians in mourning the death of George Herbert Walker Bush and expressing heartfelt condolences to his children and the rest of the Bush family. May we never forget his service to our country, his call for all of us to be a light to the world, and his loving spirit.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott: The state of Texas mourns with the nation at the passing of one of our greatest Presidents. George H.W. Bush was an American hero and icon, he was a friend to all he met, he embodied class and dignity. Texans are genuinely honored that he called the Lone Star State home and we collectively grieve this monumental loss. On behalf of Texas, Cecilia and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the Bush family in their time of need.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: We have lost a great American. Service defined President George H.W. Bush’s life, and he taught all of us about leadership, sacrifice and decency. We send our deepest sympathies to the Bush family.
Kevin Ryan, president of Covenant House: Clare and I send our love & sympathy to the Bushes on the loss of Pres. George Bush. At a time when some argued for the quarantine of our @CovenantHouse kids with HIV & AIDS, George & Barbara Bush held them close. I hope those angels now welcome him home to the kingdom of God.
Former FBI Director James Comey: Remembering the wisdom of a great American leader: “America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.