Show It Again, Sam

Norman Rockwell couldn’t have done it better. In fact were he still alive, I would have thought it was a Rockwell painting I was looking at.

To what am I referring? The picture of Sully, Bush 41’s service dog, lying in front of his casket. Not only should we have dogs like that, we should have what dogs like that have inside them–love and loyalty. President Bush had that him in. Would that someone would revive the goal of a kinder, gentler nation. Imagine someone of that stature hand-writing thank you notes to thousands of people he didn’t know who had taken the time to write to him. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

I didn’t vote for any of the Bushs,  though I thought 41 was one of the most qualified men in our history to hold the office. I had a unique relationship with the father and two of his sons. Briefly, my son went to school with 41’s grandson and played with him on the school’s baseball and football teams. I was coming out of a meeting at a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale as he was doing the same. He was moving like the cartoon of Dashing Dan the logo those who’ve ever ridden the Long Island Railroad will remember. I deferentially called to him–and he stopped. I told him what I just told you and asked for an autograph. He complied but I didn’t have what with he could give it to me. He was irritated but, you know, he waited and told someone to get a pen and paper.  It is framed on my wall.

His “Points of Light” initiative was a wonderful idea. It should have been retained as a part of future Presidents’ efforts at thanking people who don’t necessarily give much of anything but themselves to projects of worth for others in need. I hate to make the link, but it brings to mind the AT&T commercials that said, “Reach out and touch someone.”

Lincoln had it too. Did you know that he held open houses so that the average Joe and Jane could come in for five or ten minutes and tell the President of the United States what was on their minds? Can you imagine that today?

When JEB was governor of Florida there were several times that he appeared at his son’s games when I was doing the same. Often as not it was him, me, and his protective detail. While I wouldn’t say we were “buds”–JEB is not a socially outgoing person–he showed enough of himself to me to show that his dad had taught him well. One time I even got a hand-written thank you note from him!

In my capacity as liaison to the Secret Service for my organization the night the other President Bush spoke at our annual meeting, I was responsible for his placement and keeping him company if you will for the few minutes before he went on. It was just long enough to know that good stuff from the old man had seeped into him as well.

And then it happened, the person who was to introduce him picked the wrong time to go to the men’s room. The president’s schedule waits for no one. I whispered to my boss, “What do I do?” And came one of a few “15 minutes of fame” I was privileged to have in my career. She said, “INTRODUCE HIM!” So I did, on television, no less. But how? I had no script so I mimicked the Sergeant of Arms of the House of Representatives when he introduces the President to a joint session. “Ladies and Gentlemen…the president of the United States!” You don’t have to say his name by the way. Everyone knows who he is. As he bounded onto the stage, and I fled, he gave me a little wink.

The other day I heard a commentator who worked for Bush 41 say something to this effect. “During President Bush’s time, the fights were staged so the public would think it was hard to do the business of the nation. When the lights went out, cordiality reigned and everyone had dinner and drinks together. Today the cordiality is staged and the fights are the norm, she said. Many others commented that during the funeral it was virtually impossible not to compare what was being said about the deceased president in the church and what was being said outside America’s churches about the living one.

So Sully, who goes on to his next assignment, can rest easy that he made life easier for someone who himself was dedicated to making life easier for his fellow Americans. His picture should be the memorial we remember. It can faithfully nudge us toward a kinder, gentler nation. And it would seem that sometimes the good don’t die young.–at least from my perspective.

Today it is a reflective Bill Gralnick who writes most every Sunday in this space. His writings on a myriad of subjects can be found on his website:

A compendium of his writings can be found in his two books. Mirth, Wind, and Ire and More Mirth, Wind, and Ire, $2.99 each at and They are also available on Amazon and Nook.

Each book is made up of essays on the contemporary political and social scene with a little humor thrown in. The first ends with musing on why this great nation keeps repeating its social and political mistakes decade after decade. The second ends with a “how to” for local individuals or groups who want to raise a little Cain in their home communities and get something done.

Read! It’s good for both of us.

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