There has been so much to move the spirit over the 48 hours since we learned of the passing of George H.W. Bush, our 41st president. I was deeply touched by “Mission Complete,” the image of Sully the dog, keeping vigil by the late president’s flag-draped casket. What a powerful symbol of faithfulness and loyalty, a perfect tribute to a man who served our nation in that vein for his entire lifetime, as a military aviator, congressman, agency head, ambassador and president.
Sully, the president’s companion and service dog during the last months of his life, will accompany the president’s casket as it is flown to Washington today, and he’ll stay on, at Walter Reed Army Hospital, in a new role. There, he’ll help to comfort and serve other veterans.
I was happy to learn about Sully and his new assignment, because the Humane Society of the United States has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs on a partnership to increase animal-related volunteerism and adoption by veterans.
The members of the Bush family have always shared their affection for their pets with the American people. First Lady Barbara Bush celebrated her dog Millie in a wonderful book for children, describing a typical day in the White House for President Bush and his family.
First Lady Laura Bush attended our 50th anniversary celebration concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004. And with George W. Bush, her husband, the 43rd president of the United States, adopted a dog as a public act from the SPCA of Texas in 2016, encouraging other Americans to “consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group.”
In death as in life, George. H.W. Bush has reminded us of the quintessential American values, of family, faith, devotion to country, humanitarian spirit, and as the presence of Sully and other dogs and cats in the president’s family life reminds us, of compassion and love for animals.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the late president’s family, and may he rest in peace.