June 9, 2016
Happy Birthday, Barbara Bush: A Former First Lady Turns 91

Barbara Bush is American royalty, but unlike most royalty, no scandals have ever marred her reputation. As wife to President George H. W. Bush, she comported herself exactly as one her in position should have, and as mother to President George W. Bush, she became a national emblem of motherhood. Today, America wishes her a very happy 91st birthday.

Born in Rye, New York, in 1925 to a father who went on to become a corporate leader and a mother who ensured she learned how to be a lady, young Barbara attended boarding school in South Carolina. Armed with the skills she learned at school in the South, she met and entranced her future husband at the tender age of 16.

It was the time of World War II, and their engagement was quickly announced after about 18 months of courtship. George, a bomber pilot, left to fight, and they married on January 6, 1945, just two short weeks after he returned on leave. The marriage that followed their short courtship is a marriage for the ages and an example of what marriage should be to all Americans.

Their love gave them six children. Among those six are a former president, a former governor, a businessman, a corporate director and an author. Sadly, their second child, daughter Robin, died in 1953 of pediatric leukemia. One can be sure that neither Barbara Bush nor President Bush have gone a single day without thinking of their loss, while remaining thankful for the love that sustained them during such a tragic time. In fact, according to Barbara Bush's White House biography, Robin's death changed them both forever.

"Because of Robin, George and I love every living human more."
As the years passed, Barbara Bush's dashing young pilot became a successful businessman in the Texas oil industry. He soon found himself either unfulfilled with business or searching for a way to give back to his country. Regardless of the reason behind his decision, he turned to politics.

By the time Barbara Bush made it to the White House, she had been the wife of a U.S. Congressman, the wife of the director of the CIA, and the wife of a U.S. vice president, to list only a few. One can only assume that when her husband decided to pursue the presidency, Barbara knew exactly what to expect and supported him throughout not only his campaign but also his time as president of the United States.

During her time in the White House, Barbara Bush used her position as first lady to support her chosen cause. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which is a nonprofit agency to promote literacy for all American families. After President Bush's defeat in 1992, he and Barbara returned to Houston, where they continue to live today. In Texas, as in Washington, Barbara Bush continues to support the advancement of literacy through the works of her foundation.

Even though Barbara Bush is known for her works to advance literacy, her charity seems to know no bounds. During Hurricane Katrina, when her son was president, Mrs. Bush visited those who had been moved to Houston for shelter and donated funds to a joint Bush-Clinton fund created to help the hurricane's thousands of victims.

Barbara Bush is a woman who has seen and done. However, if asked, she would likely cite her roles as wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as the most important jobs she has had during her long, public life. As an American, I want to thank her for the sacrifices she made that took her away from her loved ones as she worked to make our country a better place. Thank you, Mrs. Bush, and may you have a very happy 91st birthday.