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George H. W. Bush

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“In 1989, I utilized the power of the Presidency to call Americans to service . . . .”

George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924–2018.  41st President of the United States.  Typed Letter Signed, George Bush, one page, 8½” x 11”, on stationery of the Office of George Bush, Houston, Texas, January 13, 2006. 

This is a beautiful letter with an outstanding double association.  Bush congratulates a recipient of the “Daily Point of Light” award, an award that he created to recognize volunteers who made a difference through service to their fellow citizens, for his dedication to “pediatric cancer patients” and their families.  The letter thus not only reflects one of Bush’s major initiatives, centered on his view of community and volunteerism, but also poignantly recalls the death of his second child, his daughter Robin, who died from leukemia at age 3. 

The former President writes, in full:

Congratulations on being named today’s Daily Point of Light.  Your acts of generosity and community action exemplify the spirit of service and set a standard of excellence to which people of all ages can aspire.

Your dedication to pediatric cancer patients and their family [sic] by creating Friends for Life America is a remarkable example of the generosity and compassion that helps to better our communities.  I commend your work and thank you for being a shining point in the lives of the people of America.

Changes in society, changes in the economy and changes in the family have had costly effects on access to the fundamental resources that individuals need to lead productive lives.  Without the support of volunteers like you, the needs of many Americans would go unfulfilled. 

In 1989, I utilized the power of the Presidency to call Americans to service and to direct public attention to the value of service in solving serious social problems.

For answering that call, I thank you!

Bush first referred to “points of light” in his acceptance speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention.  The new presidential nominee painted his view of America as “a nation of community, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.”  He recited a disparate list of groups, an America from which “a brilliant diversity spreads like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”   He pledged to “keep America moving forward, always forward—for a better America, for an endless, enduring dream and a thousand points of light.”

He returned to the theme in his inaugural address.  “I have spoken of a thousand points of light,” he said, “of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.  We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. . . . The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless:  duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.”

Bush established the Daily Point of Light award in January 1990.  During his four-year administration, he formally recognized more than 1,000 volunteers as “points of light.”

Five months after Bush established the Daily Point of Light award came the creation of the Points of Light Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization whose mission today is “to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.”  It helps other nonprofits, engages with businesses to promote corporate volunteerism, and connects individuals and families with opportunities to serve.

Pauline Robinson Bush (1949–1953), whom the family called “Robin,” was the second child and first daughter of George and Barbara Bush.  She was named for Mrs. Bush’s mother, Pauline Robinson Pierce, who was killed in an automobile accident three months before her birth.  She was diagnosed with advanced leukemia at age 3 and died just over two months short of her fourth birthday.

This letter is in extra fine condition.  It is clean and bright and has never been folded.  Bush has signed in black ballpoint. 

While Bush’s letters are abundant, this one is particularly nice with the double association to Bush’s signature Points of Light program and the pediatric cancer that claimed his first daughter.



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