Commentary

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States

My Brief, yet Memorable Encounter with Human Decency and Respect

I had the privilege of meeting President George H.W. Bush in person once. It was brief, by accident, and had nothing to do with any of the broad range of public policy issues in which he was involved during his varied and long tenure of public service.

It occurred at the end of May, 1993, about four months after he left office. I was meeting with Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor at the cardinal’s Madison Avenue residence when the doorbell rang. A minute or so later, President George H.W. Bush was standing at the doorway of the room where Cardinal O’Connor was meeting with me.

What happened next is why I write this. From the doorway, President Bush saw that Cardinal O’Connor was not alone and instinctively took a step back out of the room, saying to me: “Pardon me; I don’t mean to interrupt your meeting with His Eminence.”

Well, needless to say, I stood up, left the room and went out into the hallway and the Cardinal waved him in. About 15 minutes later, President Bush left the room.

On his way out, President Bush came directly to me and apologized for cutting into my time.

For me, an important measure of a person is how he or she treats those with less stature, accomplishments or status. Based on my brief but memorable encounter, President Bush measures up very well. Our world would be a better place if we all followed his example.

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