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. broishina

    That "fine man" had dementia for a long time...and he started to destroy our country as soon as he took over after Ronald Reagan ...How can we be spared to look or hear from Bushes like FOREVER!!!! Didn't they do already enough damage-Obama is destroying the country with a speed of light just continuing the provisions and measures Bush put in place...wish people expressed same outrage they did when Bush started it.....

    July 16, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    OBAMA is only using G H W BUSH to get the GOP to do a lot to bring forth his wishes...PLEASE GOP, IND., and even
    SENSIBLE DEMOCRATS ...Don't DRINK this KOOLAID..remember Jim Jones years back..their all dead

    July 16, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Neo124

    I don't know what's more pathetic: These two globalists/Fabian socialists, or the poor fools who believe their act.

    July 16, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Oh No You Don't

    What an insult to President Bush...making him go onstage with Obama...

    July 16, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Tommy Applegate

    Obama doesn't care he's got you ppl distracted about Zimmerman to worry about what's next. Need to focus more on their war crimes instead of Zimmerman. Look @ what he's doing overseas. The man don't care of you & me.

    July 16, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Susan Daniels

    They are two sides of the same coin. I just found a picture from a 1983 BBQ when a young Bill Clinton is with Bush Sr. who is shaking hands with George Wallace. The fix has been in forever.

    July 16, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. dam

    What's with those socks?

    July 16, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Doc Holiday

    Birds of a feather

    July 16, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. JoeS

    I think that GWHB did more to dismantle Reagans message that we are still dealing with it today.

    July 16, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Not Chicken Little

    Read my lips...no new taxes! Oh, THAT George Bush, that broke his crystal-clear pledge and continued the long DemocRAT tradition of lying your butt off and that Republicans didn't used to do...that Obama gives him any praise means he thinks Bush is just a tool for Obama to use.

    July 16, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Lee

    Both Bushes, the Clintons and the POTUS are Communitarians. Look that up and learn about what is referred to as the Third Way – lovely version of capitalism and you know what.

    July 16, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Destop

    two globalist holding hands, what a surprise

    July 16, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Destop

    We are surer a kinder and gentler nation, is that because of the chlorinaded water or the chemical trails?
    Thank you globalist.

    July 16, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. vtxphantom

    And we are a more divided nation, a weaker nation(militarily, economically) because of obama

    July 16, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Snarky MacFee

    See how happy you can be when you DONT have that job?!

    July 16, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. the dude

    man he looks totally senile in that photo.

    " I like apple schauche -- I want apple schausche.!! "

    July 16, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Dr. Seuss 2

    I like those " Cat In The Hat" or Dr. Seuss socks Mr. Prez. I'm not sure what statement you are making with them but I am sure it has something to do with fairytales.

    July 16, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. RCha

    Those socks were appropriate ATTIRE FOR THOSE PRESENT.....Obama is the leader of the CIRCUS IN WASHINGTON DC.

    July 16, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. brian in dc

    Obama already burnt all the bridges down. Can't stand him. How's that laser-like focus on the economy coming along?

    July 16, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Phaerisee

    It is great to have such an even tempered and gracious President in these dangerous times.

    July 16, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Dean


    That "fine man" had dementia for a long time...and he started to destroy our country as soon as he took over after Ronald Reagan ...How can we be spared to look or hear from Bushes like FOREVER!!!!

    broishina, you could move.

    July 16, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. lynnworldblog

    Bush 41 is no Ronald Reagan. Never was. He's a get along Rockefeller Republican. He will not be remembered for his mismatched red stripped socks.

    July 16, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. 40yearslater

    The President should have shown his servanthood and pushed him in the wheelchair himself

    July 16, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Muddahen

    Does anyone else notice that his socks don't match? Please don't tell me that he has two pairs of those awful looking things!

    July 16, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Lee

    Wow...some really pathetic responses. Pres Bush, Sr. volunteered as a fighter pilot in WWII and dedicated his life to public service as did his son, GW Bush. Both of the Bush former presidents continue to champion service they started while in office with volunteerism and AIDS research. Cheers to Pres Obama for supporting them both. I don't see eye to eye with Pres Obama's political views, but I applaud his desire to do what he believes is right for the country. Above all, I respect the office of the president and take my oath to serve the people and my commander in chief very seriously.

    July 16, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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