It is with a heavy heart and fond memories that we note the passing of the Honorable George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States of America.
On Saturday, March 9, 2002 in New York City, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presented President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush with the 17th Annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award, sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At that historic event, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Former Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory welcomed the former President and First Lady. It was remarkable that President Bush showed the kindness and courteousness that marked his entire public life by patiently shaking the hands of over 1,000 people who attended the Banquet.
That was the first time the Award was presented to more than one individual and was unique in honoring the former President and First Lady collectively, as well as individually.
In geopolitical terms, President Bush presided over a period of unparalleled positive change. From the fall of Soviet Communism to the liberation of many oppressed peoples in the developing world, his White House term is increasingly recognized as one of tremendous historical importance, especially in the context of promoting human rights. Likewise, his enduring concern regarding humanitarian issues and the promotion of human dignity continue to be exemplified in the activities of the Points of Light Foundation.
As President in 1991, Bush earned the gratitude of all Orthodox Christians when he worked to safeguard the integrity of the election of His All-Holiness Bartholomew as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, ensuring that the names of no candidates would be erased by the Turkish government.
He was, in sum, a gracious and noble individual, and he will be missed.
Eternal be the memory of George H. W. Bush.
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD