Obama to Bush 41: We are a ‘gentler nation’ because of you
July 15th, 2013
06:37 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama to Bush 41: We are a ‘gentler nation’ because of you

(CNN) - It was a homecoming for former President George H.W. and former first lady Barbara Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Monday where they joined President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in presenting the Points of Light honor for extraordinary work in community service.

The Points of Light Foundation, now the world's largest service organization coordinating volunteer projects, started during the Bush administration. The 41st president serves as the non-partisan, non-profit foundation's honorary chairman and his son, Neil Bush, is the president.

Obama thanked the former president for his long legacy of community service.

"In addition to this award, he created the first White House office dedicated to promoting volunteerism, and he championed and signed the National and Community Service Act,” Obama said.

The law helped jumpstart AmeriCorps, a federal program that places volunteers in a variety of nonprofit organizations around the country.

Obama credited Bush with setting off a sea change of volunteerism among Americans.

"Volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives," the president said.

"We are surer a kinder and gentler nation because of you," he added.

The two presidents welcomed the 5,000th award recipients Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer, co-founders of a leading national charity called Outreach, and commended them for extraordinary volunteer work.

"Thank you for this incredible award," Ms. Hamilton said. "Not in our wildest dreams did we ever plan to be here or ever imagined receiving this award."

The Outreach organization works to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to children and those in need, both at home and abroad.

"We're from Union, Iowa, which is a town of only 394 people – and it's amazing that a handful of people from this small town can make such a big difference,” Hammer said.

According to one of the co-founders, they have donated 232 million meals so far.

"The more of us who are making a difference, the better this world will be,” Hammer added.

Obama continued Monday's charity theme with an announcement of his new task force that will “take a fresh look at how we can better support national service in schools; recovering from disasters and mentoring our kids."

The task force will be led by a team of representatives from his Cabinet agencies and led by Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

As for Bush, he said he will continue to be able to express his commitment to highlighting volunteerism and community service in America through his Points of Light Foundation.

The 89-year-old former president has battled health problems. He had been hospitalized this past winter suffering complications related to bronchitis.

Bush also has a form of Parkinson's disease that affects his legs and requires him to use a wheelchair.

His last public appearance was at the opening of his son President George W. Bush's presidential library in April.

Filed under: George H.W. Bush • President Obama • White House
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. Ed

    There is a reason why George H.W. Bush is so highly regarded amongst a vast majority of Americans. He is my favorite "recent" president and I wish we could have another man like him in office.

    July 16, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. Adam; Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    lol. Hows that whole "Change" thing working out for you guys? I voted for the joke Obama in 2008. I deeply regret it. I am waiting for a 3rd party candidate before I start voting again. Both party's are complete failures.

    July 16, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  3. Maria

    Great President, Good Bless you always.....

    July 16, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. Bill Williams

    President Bush was a good man.I'm proud to have voted for him in '88 & 92.

    July 16, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. Chris Parker

    Just like the Bush family to help rehabilitate the anti-American socialist in chief, right when he is on his political death bed.

    No more Bushes. They are not conservatives. They are slightly right leaning democrats. As in: RINOs.

    They are big government creeps just like all good democrats.

    July 16, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  6. albertus magnus

    He sings his praises because when you get right down to the nuts and bolts of it they are both working for the same goal, a one world order. The CFR has them in their back pocket, sorry W lovers but that's just the way of it, the MSM is also in their back pocket.

    July 16, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  7. james

    Wheres the hate towards heartless republicans? gee wiz

    July 16, 2013 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  8. Craig Eliot

    Thank you President Bush for several things: 1) Being yet another puppet of banking and corporate interests; 2) fathering GW Bush, who was one of the worst Presidents ever; 3) for paving the way for our current President, who is more enthusiastic than either your or your stupid son to break the middle class and turn American into a third world country. THANKS!

    July 16, 2013 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  9. eric

    Of corse Obama sings Bush Praises, he is practically a republican. But Bush 41 was director of the CIA for a long time so maybe we weren't really that gentle.

    July 16, 2013 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  10. Chado Flatwell

    So all of the presidents may insult each other publicly but are really in the same club together, all buddy buddy

    July 16, 2013 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  11. Quixote

    The headline is SO misleading to anyone not bothing to read the article. He is not praising the know nothing miscreant bumbling toadstool who occupied the WH right before him, but the WWII vet and what today appears moderate conservative from back before President Clinton cleaned up the messes of ronald reagan.

    Back in those days Poppy bush seemed like a kind pf feckless conservative, but one who was open to reason, one who knew enough to call reaganomics, that supply side laffer curve nonsense conservatives STILL trot out –"voodoo economics" - put together an actual coalition and built international support for expelling saddam, but knew enough to stop short of an illegal invasion.......supported tax increases when they were needed, supported ADA, IDEA, and pther social programs that made life better.

    I pther words, he was that old breed of conservative that no longer exists. He was still too far right on most things, but he was not an extremist nut case like conservatives today.

    July 16, 2013 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  12. Galen King

    Gentler, ha. Gentler up close, lethal from a distance, and in the shadows.

    July 16, 2013 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  13. Evelyn Connaway

    Sorry Barack, you don't really know him very well, just what you've been told. But you like a lot of us were told to be nice to your elders. He like a lot of men will be judged in time.

    July 16, 2013 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  14. sdeakins

    After praising Bush first Obama then blamed him for having a son who looks like W.

    July 16, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  15. Anonymous

    BO didn't say until later that he felt it still is all your son's fault.

    July 16, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  16. tony

    Two war criminals patting each other on the back.

    July 16, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  17. DutchUncle

    We will Never have a Gentler nation as long as this Divider is in power. He has single handedly destroyed any chance of American coming together and working for a greater nation...sad.

    July 16, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  18. TG

    The funny part is even Obama can get past partisan BS knowing he is already in office just his worshippers and lemming followers cannot get past their racist irrational Marxist spawned hate for Bush 41 or the son 43. Both of whom did at least fiscally a better job than he has.

    July 16, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  19. Carol

    He is just trying to score brownie points with conservatives....sorry, not going to work!

    July 16, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  20. Dar

    What Obama really meant to say was, "Respected because of YOU".
    Something Obama has been unable to do.
    Come to think of it, what has Obama done.................OH yeah, got better at golfing. I knew there was something. LOL

    July 16, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  21. joel

    this man was the cia director when cocaine was flown into the US on cia chartered flights which resulted in mass chaos through the 90's I seriously doubt the nation is gentler because of bush senior

    July 16, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  22. babooph

    These 2 guys will go down as ok presidents.

    July 16, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. TSander

    Apparently the reporter who worte this story has never read aabout the Peace Corps which was founded by John Kennedy.

    July 16, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  24. dave

    This phrase from speech writer Peggy Noonan sure has legs. I always thought she got the idea from Chairman Mao, "let a thousand flowers bloom", but maybe she got it from somewhere else –The phrase was previously found in C.S. Lewis's 1955 novel The Magician's Nephew, in which Lewis wrote: "One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out."

    July 16, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  25. MarcusOHreallyUS

    You've got to be kidding!

    July 16, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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