KENNEBUNKPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) — The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has saddened the country but also reminded Americans of the passing of the World War II generation.
What many now call, from the title of Tom Brokaw’s book, "The Greatest Generation."
President Bush was a leader of that generation — a Navy combat pilot in the Pacific who was shot down, killing his two fellow crew members. But he was rescued and went on to fly a total of 58 combat missions.
At the Kennebunkport American Legion post, President Bush was well known and appreciated as "one of us." He even joined those veterans, unannounced, at a pancake breakfast in May.
"I think he cared so much about the country because he was a World War veteran, got shot down. This was his country, he was protecting it and wanted to be president and protect it, also," said Alex "Skip" D’Ascanio, commander of Legion Post 159.
D’Ascanio said he thinks Bush’s Navy record is one of many things people appreciated and admired about him.
Earl Morse agrees. Morse is the founder of Honor Flight, the group that takes veterans to see their memorials in Washington. He says George H.W. Bush epitomized the attitude of his generation.
"Service before self, sacrifice, those are some of the keywords that have described President Bush, his humility and service to this nation," Morse said.
And both men said President Bush’s service in World War II is one of many things that resonated with people, and made him well-liked, years after leaving office.
"We are sad he’s gone," said Skip D’Ascanio, "but we were so lucky to have him."