President Franklin D. Roosevelt was right when he uttered those words to Congress asking for a Declaration of War. December 7th is a date which lives in infamy. It is also a date each year when “We the People” mourn the fallen whose sacrifice led the Greatest Generation to shoulder arms and march to victory against monstrous evil. Their courage lent truth to FDR’s words at the end of his speech. “…always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome…, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory… With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”
At Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, the course of a high school senior’s life was changed. Instead of going on to college, young George H.W. Bush decided to defer his admission to Yale University, and on his birthday, June 12th, 1942 enlisted in the United States Navy. In his speech accepting the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 1992, President Bush spoke about his decision, saying, “I was scared but I was willing. I was young, but I was ready. I had barely started living when I began to see men die.”
George H.W. Bush became the youngest pilot in the Navy in July, 1943. He flew torpedo bombers on 58 combat missions in the Pacific theater. He survived two crashes, and was shot down during a bombing of a Japanese radio station at Chichi Jima. He was the only survivor, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and three air medals.
George H.W. Bush went on to become a member of Congress, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Head of the US Liaison Office in China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice President of the United States, and President of the United States. He was the last combat veteran to become President.
The 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, Retired Admiral James Stavridis believed President Bush’s combat service greatly shaped the kind of man and the type of President George Bush became, saying, “…for depth of character, integrity and empathy, it is hard to top the senior Bush. Did his experiences in war shape him profoundly? I’d say so; and more importantly, so did he, often doing so as he reflected on his service in the Second World War at various points in his long and eventful life. He looked back not in anger or bitterness as some combat veterans do, but with a profound sense of wonder at his own survival and a sense that he owed even more service to his nation for having been spared.”
President Bush passed away on November 30th, 2018, and the nation mourned his passing during his funeral on December 5th. His son, President George W. Bush, gave a eulogy that was a touching, fitting tribute. If you missed it, it’s only a few minutes, and I encourage you to try and see it on the internet.
On December 5th, I had the honor of becoming your State Senator for the 45th District. Andrew Chesney was sworn in as the State Representative for the 89th District. It has been 65 years since Freeport has been home to both our State Senator and State Representative, making the ceremony a truly historical event. Because of the significance, we chose to be sworn in at the Lincoln Douglas Debate Square, and were sworn by the Honorable Michael P. Bald, Presiding Judge in Stephenson County.
I agree with President George H.W. Bush’s words, “The American Dream means giving it your all, trying your hardest, accomplishing something. And I’d like to add to that, giving something back.” I know just what he means.
I am truly honored to be your State Senator. I am confident that my extensive experience and proven commitment will help me represent the citizens of the 45th District in the State Senate and help move all of Illinois forward. And I will work every day to make sure that the each of us has the opportunity to earn our version of the American Dream.
To my friend Bruce Johnson, the American Dream was promoting and expanding agriculture in Stephenson County. Bruce served as the Stephenson County Farm Bureau Manager for the past 14 years. He was a tireless, award-winning champion for our agricultural community. He was also a dedicated advocate for improving our community. He volunteered countless hours for many organizations including United Way, and Rotary. He lived, quite literally, President Bush’s interpretation of the American Dream.
I was sorry to hear Bruce passed away on Wednesday, December 5th. To his wife Andrea, and to his family, I offer my deepest condolences. I am lucky to have known him. He made Stephenson County better. For his life, his friendship, his work, and his commitment, I am truly thankful.
As you know, my office is undergoing transition. I will continue to make myself available to you. If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Glenda at 815-284-0045. My website will be up and running very shortly and I will share the address as soon as it is ready.