I wasn’t interested in understanding politics or reading the current happenings in the United States until President Obama’s second term. That was when I realized that I was soon going to be a voting, active citizen of this country. I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights and women’s empowerment, which is why it struck a chord with me when Barbara Bush passed away last week after suffering from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or C.O.P.D.
I wasn’t born when George H.W. Bush was president, and I didn’t know the impact that either he or Barbara Bush left on this country — except from what I read in history books. Barbara Bush had a very successful life and career. After meeting Bush Sr. when she was 16 years old, Barbara proceeded to marry him and have six children and 17 grandchildren.
During President George H.W. Bush’s presidency, Barbara was an advocate for women’s rights, but her main project was eradicating illiteracy. She was influenced by the underprivileged people in the country to develop a program, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, for recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection. Barbara understood that it is important and empowering when everyone has the ability to read. She said, “Most of our nation’s problems would be solved if every man, woman and child could read, write and comprehend.”
Barbara’s dedication to benefiting the lives of the underrepresented individuals of the U.S. was not just limited to the illiterate citizens of the American population, as she also connected people through her bipartisan values. She knew that a lot of Republican values wouldn’t align with the interests of the general population, but she proposed that her husband increase research and treatment funding for various projects throughout his terms. In addition, she was an inside advocate for the president’s signing of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and even invited openly gay and lesbian American citizens to the signing. Through her life-long compassion and dedication to helping the people of this country, Barbara’s propositions and work as First Lady are what set her apart from other First Ladies of this country.
As a strong advocate for volunteerism and empowering the citizens of this country, Barbara helped a lot of communities both during and after her husband’s presidency. Barbara pushed for funding for research for people suffering from AIDS, and she also helped many causes like the homeless, the elderly and school volunteer programs.
I wasn’t alive when Barbara made her impact as First Lady, but if it weren’t for her, many advancements in education and in the lives of underrepresented American people wouldn’t have happened.
After her death last Tuesday, people from all across the world paid tribute to Barbara and gave their support to her family. Barbara had dignity and grace, and her willingness to make her presence known while her husband was in office was remarkable. She wasn’t afraid to use her voice, and she had the ability to connect people from around the world through her compassion for social issues. She was a matriarch both in her family and for the millions of people in the United States.
A force like Barbara will definitely be missed, but it’s time — now more than ever — to empower the youth of this country to have the same energy as Barbara did and lead the country with grace.