In honor of the late President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, the George HW Bush Presidential Library and Museum is hosting a free Bush anniversary celebration for the couple Friday in the museum’s rotunda along George Bush Drive West at College Station.
“This is the first time we’ve had this celebration since 2019, but we’ve been celebrating their birthdays for many years in the rotunda,” said Tracy Paine, director of public programs at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. “We will have Blue Bell ice cream, Pepsi products, coffee, balloons and a breathtaking cake. We encourage people to wear beads in honor of Barbara and crazy socks to celebrate George’s life.
Barbara always wore three strands of pearls, while George was famous towards the end of his life for wearing crazy socks, she said. George would have been 98 on June 12 and Barbara would have been 97 on Wednesday; and to celebrate, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aggieland residents can gather to honor the Bush family.
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After the museum closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Paine said it was great to reopen the library and museum.
“It’s nice to be back in the public and see families having fun,” she said. “It was really difficult for us, a staff, when we were closed for so long. It was not our choice and it was difficult for us not to be in the building and not to be part of the community. When we were finally able to reopen it was a huge relief for all of us, and being able to host events again and welcome people into the building was just awesome.
People of all ages are welcome to attend, with Paine saying more than 400 guests could show up this year. The last birthday celebration in 2019 took place a few months after George’s death.
“This [birthday celebration] was more of a touching moment, we had pictures of them both; and before the year before, Barbara passed away in April 2018, so the June event was more about her and her life,” Paine said. “This year’s celebration is more about their legacy of public service and celebrating what they have provided to us in the community.”
On Wednesday, Paine said members of his staff as well as members of the Bush Library, the George and Barbara Bush Foundation and the Bush School, all gathered for a “Bush Day of Service.”
“The day of service honors the legacy of public service,” Paine said. “[George] repeatedly said “No good life can be defined without public service to others”. Last year we started this the week of their birthday and 40 of us volunteered at the food bank, and we ask people to remember the importance of giving back and serving as you can.
“We don’t do much together like that as staff members from different groups. But he [was] fun to meet people with whom you don’t talk much and who always have the same mission in mind.”
At the birthday party, Paine said guests are welcome to visit the museum for a fee.
“The museum basically covers the last 100 years of American world history. [George] was a fighter pilot in World War II, so we have a World War II exhibit,” she said. “He was involved in the oil industry and he was a congressman and then a United Nations ambassador, head of the Republican National Committee, China liaison, head of the CIA, then vice president and president. So we explain all of this to you, and then we talk about what’s going on in the world while he’s doing these things, and of course we also talk about Barbara Bush.
To RSVP for the birthday event, visit eventbrite.com/e/bush-birthday-celebration-tickets-344321955237.
In addition to the anniversary celebration, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is hosting many upcoming events, including a June 19 celebration, summer movie series, summer history camp , a Bill of Rights workshop for elementary and secondary educators, and a Nelson Mandela exhibit.
For more information, visit bush41.org/events.