April 29, 2013
George W. Bush Presidential Center Dedication
By: John Price, Hinckley Institute Resident Scholar and Former U.S. Ambassador
On Thursday April 25, 2013, I attended the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located on 23 acres, on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. SMU is a well laid out campusâ€”it is very consistent. The buildings flow seamlessly–complementing each other–with their brick and limestone facades. Even the Gerald J. Ford Stadium is handsomely dressed in brick and limestone.
The landscaping and tree-lined paths draw you through the walking-style campus. Dallas being flat makes SMUâ€™s grounds seem endless. SMUâ€™s architectural composition â€œwill stand the test of timeâ€.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center serves as the anchor, with access from Mockingbird Lane and the North Central Expressway (Route 75). The Centerâ€™s expansive brick, glass, and Texas limestone contemporary structure has an inviting presence.
I attended the Centerâ€™s Groundbreaking Ceremony on November 16, 2010. Now nearly two and a half years later, the Dedication Ceremony was highlighted by the attendance of President Barrack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former President George H.W. Bush, former President Jimmy Carter–and of course former President George W. Bush and family members; country leaders, and diplomats from around world.
Reportedly, more than 70 million pages of text records, 200 million email messages, and four million photographs from President George W. Bushâ€™s administration will be housed in the Presidential Library and Museum. A permanent exhibit, â€œFreedom, Responsibility, Opportunity and Compassionâ€ will feature artifacts, documents, photographs and videos. There is an interactive section called â€œDecision Points Theaterâ€– and a replica of the Oval Office where visitors can sit behind the former presidentâ€™s desk.
I was honored to serve in the Bush Administration as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Seychelles, and Union of the Comoros, from February 8, 2002, to June 17, 2005. I was proud to be a member of the National Finance Committee, representing Utah, for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Marcia and I have been friends with the Bush family since actively supporting PresidentÂ George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential campaign. I had followed George W. Bushâ€™s rise to power as governor of the State of Texas. I considered myself one of his early supporters in his presidential campaign. We held one of his first national presidential exploratory committee fund-raising events at our house on July 7, 1999. It was a successful occasion, attended by more than three hundred supporters and well-wishers. Since the presidentâ€™s birthday was the day before the event, we surprised him with a birthday cake.
I was honored when President Bush nominated me to serve as U.S. ambassador. I was sworn-in by Secretary of State Colin Powell on February 8, 2002, at the Utah State Capitol, on the same day President Bush officially opened the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. The idea that between events President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush would visit our home for dinner was nearly overwhelming. During the closing ceremonies we were further honored when Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney came to our home for dinner.
During the Presidential Center Dedication events, Alumni programs gave us a chance to reconnect with the President and Vice President, and members of the Bush Administration.