Washington (CNN) - Former President George H.W. Bush, a leader of one of the nation's most prominent Republican families, was honored Tuesday for his years of public service and leadership for civil rights - by a foundation named for his Texan predecessor and also one of the nation's most noted Democratic presidents.
Bush was given the LBJ Liberty and Justice for All Award by the LBJ Foundation.
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The award was presented to the former President in his Houston office by the daughters of Lyndon Baines Johnson - Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson.
"For several years now I've been declining awards of all kinds, but this one was different. Barbara and I both had such great respect for LBJ and of course we loved Lady Bird. They were both great Americans, and great Texans, who loved their country and their state. I can't imagine if they had not been a part of our history. So I immediately said 'yes,' when our friends and neighbors in Austin invited me to receive this award," the former President said in a statement. "But I do wonder what LBJ would say?"
The award is meant to recognize those who strive to help make sure all Americans can equally share the benefits of citizenship.
"Presentation of this award to President Bush recognizes his demonstrated qualities of civility and bipartisanship in public service," LBJ Foundation Chairman Larry Temple said. "The period of his presidency stands as a well-remembered time when those qualities characterized leadership in our country at the highest levels – a condition from which all Americans benefited. I know President Johnson would be elated with the presentation of this award, the LBJ Foundation's highest honor, to President Bush."
Bush is only the second recipient of this award. Civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, was the first in 2010.