22 Inspiring Quotes from President George H. W. Bush

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Former President George H. W. Bush’s words are often overshadowed by Dana Carvey’s oft-repeated “thousand points of light,” and “wouldn’t be prudent” catch-phrases, and by the broken “read my lips” promise from his 1988 campaign.

However, as Americans reflect on the life of our 41st president, some of his more profound, inspirational and humorous quotes and quips are resurfacing. Here is a sampling of some of his most notable quotes.

“Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”

“The American people await action. They didn’t send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the merely partisan. “In crucial things, unity” — and this, my friends, is crucial.”

“You don’t have to go to college to be a success … We need the people who run the offices, the people who do the hard physical work of our society.”

“We’re a nation of community, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.”

“It’s much worse to read criticism about your son than yourself.”

“We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.”

“Some people who are enjoying our prosperity have forgotten what it’s for. But they diminish our triumph when they act as if wealth is an end in itself.”

“Yet freedom is not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.”

“There are no maps to lead us where we are going, to this new world of our own making. As the world looks back to nine decades of war, of strife, of suspicion, let us also look forward—to a new century, and a new millennium, of peace, freedom and prosperity.”

“We’re going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons.”

“No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces, too, of the past. We, in the United States, acknowledge such an injustice in our own history: The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated.”

“You have to understand that people that are hurting are going to criticize.”

“I don’t hate government. A government that remembers that the people are its master is a good and needed thing.”

“The Senate opens its meetings with a prayer. The House of Representatives opens its meetings with a prayer. Nobody doubts that they both need it.”

“I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.”

“I’ll be glad to reply to or dodge your questions, depending on what I think will help our election most.”

“The fact is: Prosperity has a purpose. It’s to allow us to pursue “the better angels,” to give us time to think and grow. Prosperity with a purpose means taking your idealism and making it concrete by certain acts of goodness. It means helping a child from an unhappy home learn how to read, and I thank my wife, Barbara, for all her work in helping people to read, in all her work for literacy in this country. It means teaching troubled children through your presence that there is such a thing as reliable love. Some would say it’s soft and insufficiently tough to care about these things. But where is it written that we must act if we do not care, as if we are not moved?”

“I stand for anti-bigotry, anti-Semitism, and anti-racism.”

“A new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man’s heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree.”

“The day will come – and it is not far off – when the legacy of Lincoln will finally be fulfilled at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, when a black man or woman will sit in the Oval Office. When that day comes, the most remarkable thing about it will be how naturally it occurs.”

“I think the 24-hour news cycle has helped exaggerate the differences between the parties. You can always find someone on TV somewhere carping about something. That didn’t happen 20 years ago.”

“I’m conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.”