Presidents Gather For Opening of George W. Bush Center

The debut of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday drew a crowd of dignitaries including former presidents and first ladies. (Staff photos: Allison Slomowitz)

All five living U.S. presidents came together to celebrate the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center this morning at SMU. Called the “world’s most exclusive club,” the men put aside generational and political differences to celebrate the office they shared.

“Presidential libraries are not just about one president,” former first lady Laura Bush said.

Tricia Nixon Cox, Michael Reagan, and other children of presidents who’ve died, came to represent their families, making for a packed lawn of VIPs.

Former President George W. Bush got choked up at the end of his speech.

“This is a Texas-sized party worthy of what we’re here to do today,” said President Barack Obama.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognized local officials Mayor Mike Rawlings, University Park Mayor Dick Davis, and Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams, in addition to national and global leaders.

But when it came down to it, the day was about family for the Bushes.

“What a beautiful day in Dallas…to honor our oldest son,” President George H. W. Bush said.

President Carter kept his remarks sincere and diplomatic, recalling Bush’s successful steering of a peace treaty to end the Sudanese War. President Clinton, however, had the audience roaring by suggesting that Bush complete a painting of him, but unlike the leaked “bathroom sketches,” Clinton should probably “stick to a suit.”

A touching moment came when the man of the hour, known for his charming composure and casual attitude at functions, got a little choked up when he closed the ceremony with a “God bless.”

Check out this week’s paper for a preview of the center, click here to view photos of the preview and opening, and be sure to look for more memorable moments in next Friday’s paper. As for today, our hat’s off to you, Mr. President.

By Sarah Bennett Apr. 25, 2013 | 5:09 pm | 5 Comments | Comments RSS
  • UPDad

    Typical of SMU, they send us an “invitation” to their block party, which seemed nice after putting up with years of dirt, trash, and crime from all the construction going on to build things. But then when we try to register, they renege, telling us they are full. That’s pretty consistent with how they have treated their neighbors for the past 20 years.

  • SMUgrad

    Hey UPDad – you chose to live near a university. Pretty sure you weren’t around in 1911. Instead of bashing a school that does so much for your community, try and be appreciative of the prestige and recognition it brings to Dallas and the Park Cities. Pony up!

  • TH

    Quit your whining, UP Dad. You should have RSVP’d earlier like the rest of us. Clearly with security concerns, you are oblivious to the fact that they can only host so many people. Glad people like you weren’t there to ruin the night for the rest of us.

  • Max Fuqua

    All I have to say is WOW! Really fun block party, inspiring presentation with the Marine Corps choir, massive fireworks display and an appearance by the President and First Lady. It was a once in a lifetime event. Thank you SMU!

  • Susan S

    It was a lovely party with something for everyone. Great music on the field and the choir at the Center was amazing. “Proud to be an American” was a definite highlight. SMU students behind us singing along made my heart happy for the future. Thank you for inviting us to the party. My kids saw history in the making. We had a great time!

    We had to move from our home, put up with years of road closures and inconvenience but were happy to do it for the greater good of calling one of 13 presidential libraries, neighbor. Now our roads are better and our local economy will prosper as the center brings increased consumer traffic to local businesses.

    My son will be a student at SMU in the fall. The Bush Center will increase opportunities for him, as well.

    As for me, I have a 9:15 ticket reservation to the Bush Center on May 1st. I’m happy the George W Bush Presidential Center is in my neighborhood. Welcome, Neighbor!

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