By Wesley Ashton
“Having President Bush speak at UMHB is a big deal,” senior sports management major Chris Brown said. “The atmosphere was loud when he got up on stage to speak. They clapped for several minutes before he even began to speak.”
A boisterous standing ovation greeted the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush as he walked onstage at UMHB’s McLane Lecture last Wednesday.
“I had seen him speak on television but getting to see him live was an entirely different experience,” Brown added.
During his address on campus, the former president spoke not only about his time in office, but also about life lessons learned while traveling abroad. While in power, many dignitaries and foreign leaders visited him, giving him an abundance of stories to share.
“I learned while in the presidency that it is a huge honor to serve others,” Bush said. “It’s no sacrifice to serve something you love, and I love the United States of America, its people and what we stand for.”
Bush went on to describe how he dealt with foreign policy as well as the value of getting to know other leaders before he made decisions. UMHB students seemed to receive Bush’s message warmly.
“I learned from the president’s speech that it’s better to listen to a person than it would be to argue with them even if you don’t agree with them,” junior cell biology major Esther Spanial said.
“He started talking about how Putin visited him in Crawford and how he wasn’t impressed by his dog. This hurt the President but he didn’t let that stop him from listening to what he had to say. Later Putin showed him his dog saying it was stronger and faster, revealing to the president his true character,” Spanial said.
Several students had the opportunity to ask Bush about his time in office and how he felt about current events. Questions students asked varied from foreign and domestic policy to regrets he may have had during the course of his two-term presidency.
“It was a great privilege to be able to ask Bush about his opinion on the terrorist attacks in France,” senior sports management major Deshon Kinsey said. “The way he talked about the terrorist attacks in France reminds us that terrorism is still here. Even if it’s far away they can still hit at home. We have to be ready.”
Bush faced many difficult decisions. He told the audience that sometimes the decision was clear to take action on the behalf of those less fortunate.
Among his most enduring legacies while in office was a concerted effort to combat AIDS in Africa. Some say perhaps 10 million people benefitted from Bush’s international policies concerning the auto-immune disease.
“Life is a priority. To whom much is given, much is required. Those are some of the principles I stood by,” Bush said. “When Condoleezza Rice said an entire generation on the continent of Africa would die, I decided to do something about it.”
The president’s speech ended just as it began. With a huge standing ovation from the audience.
Many students remarked how Bush coming to UMHB was a great honor that they won’t soon forget.
“The president’s visit to campus truly was one of the best things I think UMHB could have done,” Spanial said. “The speech he gave really reflects the Christian values that UMHB wishes to uphold.”