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Brad Meltzer @bradmeltzer
, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
This is how I met President George H.W. Bush. He wrote me a fan later saying he loved one of my thrillers, and could I sign a copy? Of course, I sent him a book. When we finally met,
he spent the first ten minutes trying to convince my wife that he invented the phrase “You da Man.” She actually believed it — until Mrs. Bush started yelling: “Stop teasing the poor girl!” From there, I told him I was researching a book about the life of a former President.
He quickly invited me to spend a week in Houston, with unprecedented access to him and Mrs. Bush. What did I learn? That he was one of the most decent and honorable people I’d ever encountered. He loved his family, loved his sports, and believed deeply in the power of service.
I learned even more when I spoke to the Secret Service. Make no mistake, they don’t love everyone they protect. But President Bush? Over and over, they told the same story: That he always knew them by name, and always asked about their kids and families and hobbies.
He was the most powerful man in the world, but he always took time to treat you like a human being. Especially today, that level of kindness and class is a rare thing. It never left him. Over the years, we had so many adventures and laughs. He invited me to a private lunch
upstairs in the White House, and showed us everything from the secret passages to the Lincoln bedroom. But one of my most cherished memories of him? When I asked him about his plane crashing in WWII.
He was a 22-year-old pilot, yelling to his crew, signaling for them to bail out of the smoking plane. “Hit the silk! Hit the silk!“ He knew what would happen if they were captured: they’d be tortured and executed. The plane was a fireball, falling from the sky.
Still, he was determined to save his crewmen, John Delaney and Ted White. As the plane was going down, he turned it purposely to take the air pressure off the crew’s door. He did that to give them a better chance to survive and get out first. When his parachute opened too early,
George Bush’s head rammed into the bomber’s tail. When he landed, he was bleeding, vomiting, crying. He’d just survived a burning plane crash. His crewmates, despite all his actions, didn’t. Those crewmates didn’t just give their lives.
They gave him a reason to appreciate living. It was a gift George Bush never forgot.
The last time I saw him was a few weeks back as we honored Mrs. Bush. I’ll save that story for another day.
But of all the photos I have with him, this is the one I love most, him grabbing my hand with all that strength. Still gets me every time. Oh, and right now? You know what Mrs Bush just said to him? “What took you so long?” Sir, you really were the Man. #RIPGeorgeBush
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