George H.W. Bush: ‘I thought I was done’

Former president has faced down death before 

(Rachel Siegel, The Washington Post) Just one day after his wife was buried, former president George H.W. Bush contracted an infection that spread to his blood and was hospitalized.

On Monday, a family spokesman said Bush is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering.

The 93-year-old’s health has been in decline for years, yet on Saturday, Bush sat front and center at Barbara’s funeral in Houston.

From his wheelchair, Bush watched steadfastly as family and friends highlighted his 73-year marriage to the former first lady and her remarkable life.

“At a Christmas dance, he’d set his eyes on Barbara … “

Included in those tributes was a brief account of one of the first times Bush — America’s oldest living president — faced his own mortality.

More than seven decades ago, Bush confronted death not from an intensive care unit or at his dying wife’s bedside but floating alone in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

A high school senior on Dec. 7, 1941, Bush was walking the campus of Phillips Academy Andover when he first heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

According to Bush biographer and presidential historian Jon Meacham, Bush’s immediate reaction was to serve.

“After Pearl Harbor, it was a different world altogether,” Bush would later recall for Meacham’s biography, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.”

“It was a red, white, and blue thing. Your country’s attacked, you’d better get in there and try to help.”

Bush initially decided he wanted to become a pilot — and fast. He briefly considered enlisting in the Royal Air Force in Canada because, as Bush told Meacham, he “could get through much faster.” Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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