The Minneapolis Star Tribune has retrieved the letters that 18-year-old George Bush sent home to his parents while stationed in Minneapolis in 1942 learning to fly for the Navy. The letters open a window on the qualities of character that shine through his public life: “George Bush, 1942: ‘The most thanks-giving fellow here.’”
During the course of what must have felt like a long Thanksgiving weekend, he wrote: “I guess I’m the most thanks-giving fellow here, because even though I’m a couple of thousand miles off I’m lucky, Mum — Lucky for you and Dad and all the family and so many other things. I thought when I was away at school I understood it all, but being away in the Navy for this long and with so many different types of fellows has made me see more clearly still how much I do have to be thankful for.”
After speaking by phone with his family on Thanksgiving day, he wrote: “It was interesting to see a lot of these fellows today. Some tough ones, some common, others grand fellows. We all came up to our beds for a few minutes after lunch, and most of the fellows were quiet — thinking of other Thanksgiving Days. It will always be strange to me to be away on a day like this. It’s days like this that make me anxious to be out fighting — Though I know I can never become a killer, I will never feel right until I have actually fought. Being physically able and young enough I belong out at the front and the sooner there, the better.”
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