THE EDITOR: I feel the loss this week of a great US leader and a dear personal friend.
I originally met George HW Bush at Ronald Reagan’s Republican Convention. As a political leader in New York, I engaged with him frequently when he was vice president of the country and that led to our enduring friendship. He was a good man and a good leader.
We liked each other. It was as simple as that. Despite his coming from a high-brow background and me being a kid from Brooklyn, we hit it off. He called me from Washington, he called me from China, and after he departed the White House we exchanged many letters, typically hand-written but if typed he would always include the note “self-typed” at the bottom.
Once when I met him on the tarmac in New York he said to me, “Joe, have you ever seen the inside of Air Force 1?” and then proceeded to give me a full tour of the plane, including his private quarters and the galley where only he and the plane’s captain had their meals.
When he was departing the White House, he invited me to a small, private reception in the upstairs, residential part of the White House for a group he called friends. I was shocked and honoured. Despite having lost that particular election, his smile and hug were genuine… and it was a real party!
As I say goodbye to my friend, I will continue the public service – now as ambassador to TT – to which we were both called.
I share this with the public as a tribute to an exemplary US leader and in the spirit that some may find it interesting. Thank you for the opportunity.
US Ambassador to TT