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George H.W. Bush's simple but profound life advice in 23 words

John Haltiwanger
  • Former President George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday.
  • Bush lived by a simple, 23-word code he once outlined in a letter to his mother.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died at the age of 94 on Friday, is being remembered this week as a lifelong public servant and dedicated family man with an endearing sense of humour.

Bush - a decorated war hero who served his country in an array of capacities before rising to the highest office in the land in 1988 - lived by a simple, 23-word code he once outlined in a letter to his mother: "Tell the truth. Don't blame people. Be strong. Do your Best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. All that kind of thing."

The late president began his career in public service with great zeal, enlisting in the US Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942 in the midst of World War II.


Read more: Watch George H.W. Bush being rescued by the US Navy after his plane was shot down by Japanese forces in WWII

He went on to become one of the Navy's youngest pilots and flew dozens of combat missions. At one point, he was shot down near the Japanese island of Chichi Jima, floating on a raft for hours before being rescued by a US submarine.

Bush's time in the military played a major role in shaping his worldview, and he carried himself with the quiet confidence often attributed to those who joined him in the fight against fascism and imperialism in Europe and the Pacific. He was a member of what was dubbed the Greatest Generation, and is the last president to have served in the military.

Like all presidents, Bush has his fans and critics, but he's widely admired for his unwavering dedication to country and his willingness to take on virtually any challenge - including those that almost got him killed.