Presidents Gather at Debut of George W. Bush Center

The debut of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday drew a crowd of dignitaries including former presidents and first ladies. (Staff photos: Allison Slomowitz)

All five living U.S. presidents came together to celebrate the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center this morning at SMU. Called the “world’s most exclusive club,” the men put aside generational and political differences to celebrate the office they shared.

“Presidential libraries are not just about one president,” former first lady Laura Bush said.

Tricia Nixon Cox, Michael Reagan, and other children of presidents who’ve died, came to represent their families, making for a packed lawn of VIPs.

Former President George W. Bush got choked up at the end of his speech.

“This is a Texas-sized party worthy of what we’re here to do today,” said President Barack Obama.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognized local officials Mayor Mike Rawlings, University Park Mayor Dick Davis, and Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams, in addition to national and global leaders.

But when it came down to it, the day was about family for the Bushes.

“What a beautiful day in Dallas…to honor our oldest son,” President George H. W. Bush said.

President Carter kept his remarks sincere and diplomatic, recalling Bush’s successful steering of a peace treaty to end the Sudanese War. President Clinton, however, had the audience roaring by suggesting that Bush complete a painting of him, but unlike the leaked “bathroom sketches,” Clinton should probably “stick to a suit.”

A touching moment came when the man of the hour, known for his charming composure and casual attitude at functions, got a little choked up when he closed the ceremony with a “God bless.”

Check out this week’s paper for a preview of the center, click here to view photos of the preview and opening, and be sure to look for more memorable moments in next Friday’s paper. As for today, our hat’s off to you, Mr. President.

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