George H. W. Bush died on Friday, just a week before the country marks the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — an event that would change his life.
George H. W. Bush died on Friday, just a week before the country marks the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — an event that would change his life.
Bush was a high school senior on Dec. 7,1941. He was walking on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, when he heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. According to Bush biographer and presidential historian Jon Meacham, Bush wanted to serve immediately.
„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.“ But Bush was lured by naval service, inspired by the grandeur of the Navy’s power, and its reputation for camaraderie and purpose. A combination of flying and the Navy fit just right.
That winter, Bush was not yet 18. He would go home for his last Christmas out of uniform. And at a Christmas dance, he would set his eyes on his future wife, Barbara Pierce. She was 16.

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