Be Strong

Be Strong

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Edgefield Advertiser.

By Robert Scott

I had the pleasure of meeting former President George Herbert Walker Bush twice while in the Navy, once when as President he and the First Lady were paying a state visit to a nearby World War II cemetery in Italy, and again a few years after his Presidency, when he was paying an unofficial call on an ally in the Arabian Gulf. On both occasions he made time not only to share a cup of coffee with the Captain but also to address the crew. He reminded them how grateful the nation was for their service. And, on both occasions, he added with obvious sincerity that he, personally, was grateful for their service as well. Now we, the nation that President George H. W. Bush loved so well, can express how grateful we are, for his service.

I have been revisiting some of my favorite poems lately, and this one, written well before he was born, could have been written in honor of George H. W. Bush. It is entitled “Be Strong,” and was written by a Presbyterian Pastor, Maltbie Davenport Babcock, of New York City.

Be Strong!

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;

We have hard work to do, and loads to lift; shun not the struggle – face it; ‘tis God’s gift.


            Be Strong!

Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”

And fold the hands and acquiesce – oh shame!

Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.


            Be Strong!

It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,

How hard the battle goes, the day how long;

Faint not – fight on! To-morrow comes the song.


During that second visit, Former President Bush told the crew about the morning following his final Air Force One flight, the flight that took him from D.C. to his home in Houston. He woke up on the first morning in twelve years that he was neither President nor Vice President, and was lying in bed trying to decide what to do that day, when his beloved wife Barbara called out to him, “You need to get up and make your own coffee, George. This isn’t the White House!”

President George H. W. Bush and his lifelong love, Barbara Pierce Bush, have both left us now, and today’s political families can do well by studying their dignified, honorable, self-effacing and yet strong examples. We can be sure that today they are together once again, singing the song that Pastor Babcock wrote about over a century ago.