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George H.W. Bush children: What our dad's life taught us (opinion)

CNN logo CNN 12/2/2019 Opinion by Neal Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch
Presidency of George H. W. Bush wearing a suit and tie: ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - JANUARY 17:  Former U.S. President George Bush visits a tent camp for earthquake survivors on the outskirts of Islamabad on January 17, 2006 in Pakistan. Bush, 81, came as a special envoy for the United Nations to speak with survivors of the October 8 earthquake that killed more than 75,000 people and left another 3.5 million homeless. He had been scheduled to visit the earthquake zone, but helicopter flights to the area were grounded because of bad weather.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) © John Moore/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - JANUARY 17: Former U.S. President George Bush visits a tent camp for earthquake survivors on the outskirts of Islamabad on January 17, 2006 in Pakistan. Bush, 81, came as a special envoy for the United Nations to speak with survivors of the October 8 earthquake that killed more than 75,000 people and left another 3.5 million homeless. He had been scheduled to visit the earthquake zone, but helicopter flights to the area were grounded because of bad weather. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Despite the very public nature of his role, our father, the late President George H.W. Bush, was a humble man who preferred to keep the spotlight off himself. However, now that we find ourselves upon the first anniversary of his passing, we wanted to take a moment to share more about the legacy of kindness left behind by the man we knew simply as Dad.

We are proud to remember our father and the people he continues to inspire. As we reflect on the outpouring of support our family has received this year, we also remember the longing many people have expressed to get back to the kind of sentiment and humanity our father embodied.

The mourning we witnessed was not only about George H.W. Bush, the man and patriot, but also about the type of character and leadership he represented.

It has been a difficult time for our family, but a time during which we were overwhelmed with optimism in peoples' spirit and their willingness to serve others.

Growing up -- and even well into our adulthood -- Dad instilled in us the importance of placing people over politics or business. His motivation was always to serve, to set an example, and to hopefully make a difference for the world and those in it.

It was this inherent sense of leadership that helped guide pivotal moments in his long career -- whether signing and implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, which assured protections for millions of Americans; conceiving Points of Light from the Oval Office, which helped create a global network of individuals with the singular mission of giving back to others; or signing the National Literacy Act, which opened a new chapter for adult literacy in America.

He never saw these moments as political "wins," but as his duty to make the world a better place. In his personal life, too, Dad made every effort to act as a leader with compassion and a commitment to others. That was the true measure of success for him in any role -- president of the United States, husband or father.

Dad looked to those around him for inspiration, including my mom. His support for her work with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, honored their belief that everyone should have the opportunity to learn to read, so that families can live with dignity.

What's great about our country is that you don't need to be president -- or first lady -- to exhibit leadership traits. As Dad often reminded us, "no problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit." He truly believed everyone could show up as a leader, be a catalyst for change and create a world in which people can thrive.

In fact, today there are people in local communities across the world stepping up to serve others, to lead where they see a sizable gap. They're working on big problems like food insecurity, climate change, income inequality, and low literacy among adults in their own backyards.

We have chosen to celebrate some of these extraordinary individuals in honor of our father's legacy -- individuals who exemplify his belief in humble leadership, empathy and the power of the human spirit.

Most recently, we announced the recipients of the inaugural George H.W. Bush Points of Light Awards, and on November 22, we marked the 30th anniversary of the Daily Point of Light Award -- a recognition of individuals and groups who are creating meaningful change in their local communities.

Dad started this award from the White House and personally signed each award until he was no longer able.

We will always remember our father for how he looked for a way to uplift those around him -- to help those in need or simply put a smile on someone's face. And, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., we will continue to honor him by shining a light on the contributions of anyone who seeks to drive out the darkness of our time to lift the lives of others.

Because, in the end, it is the people who rise up as leaders for their communities who will make the greatest impact. It is that type of mentality and leadership we need from everyone to truly change our world.

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