With her alluring sense of humor and kind smile, former first lady Laura Bush came to the University at Buffalo last week as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series.
During the duration of her 25-minute speech, she focused on her family and life now and while she was living in the White House.
She said her father-in-law, former President George H.W. Bush, is doing well and just a few years ago he went skydiving for his 85th birthday. Her husband and former President George W. Bush has been working on the George W. Bush Presidential Center and presidential library at Southern Methodist University and promoting his memoir. Their twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, are also very successful. Barbara is the co-founder of Global Health Corps, and Jenna is a correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show, continuing the “family tradition of warm relations with the media,” she added humorously.
And as for herself, Bush jokingly placed a bobblehead of herself on the edge of the podium that a friend bought her at the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia. “It was on the clearance shelf,” she added, making the crowd laugh.
The Bushes are now back to their “normal” life in Texas.
“When you live in the White House, reality can get a little warped,” she said. “When you’re married to the president of the United States, you don’t worry too much about him leaving his wet towels on the floor. But in Dallas, things are different. Memo to the ex-presidents: Turmoil in East Timor is no longer an excuse not to pick up your socks.”
Laura Bush has always had a passion for reading and education. Before getting married, she was a second-grade teacher and a librarian. During her time as first lady, she launched the National Book Festival.
The Bushes also experienced one of the most fragile times in America during their stay in the White House – Sept. 11, 2011. That morning, she was on her way to speak to the Senate Committee on Early Childhood Education when she heard from a Secret Service agent that the first plane struck the World Trade Center. That night, the Bush family was taken to a secure location underneath the White House and although they tried to sleep, all they could think of was the pain so many Americans were in because of the tragedy. During that night and the months following 9/11, she said she saw a side of her husband that not many got to see.
Regarding the media during her time as first lady, she said she was bothered by the criticism but didn’t let it get to her. She said that during her visits to the grocery store, she found out ridiculous rumors like she had moved out of the White House or her daughters had gotten engaged to people she had never met.
She said leaving the White House was “bittersweet.” She said she wasn’t sad as she welcomed the Obama family into the White House, but felt a solemn pride.
Today, Laura and George W. Bush are back to their “normal” lives in Texas, where she refers to it as “the afterlife,” and her husband calls it “the promised land.”
Waverly Colville is a junior at Orchard Park High School.