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What We All Forget (If We Ever Knew) About The Political Career of Bush 41

Even with a public figure this durable, many facets of the story fade with time. That's a pity, because the greater meaning of anyone's life is often contained in the things others forget.
Flowers are laid at the base of the statue at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas. Source: Suzanne Cordeiro

As the years pass, we edit and compress our memories of presidents and other national figures until only a few salient impressions endure. Most of what we once knew recedes into our cerebral hard disk. That may be especially true for one-term presidents, often remembered more for what turned them out of office than for what got them there.

Would this apply to the one-term president who died Friday, George H.W. Bush? His name was attached to some of the nation's top positions for more than two decades even before his namesake son won the White House twice.

This weekend's outpouring of nostalgia, affection and grief for "George the First" surely makes the case for his significance.

But even with a public figure this durable, many facets of the story fade with time. That's a pity, because the greater meaning of anyone's life is often contained in the things others forget.

Take the example of Bush's decision, at age 18, to forgo college and join the Navy in the midst of World War II. (The White House got this wrong in their official statement, saying he had gone to war only after Yale.) Or the way he moved to Texas to start his business

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