Bush tells cheering Texans 'it is good to be home'
In the hours leading up...
Waving cardboard red, white and blue "W"s, thousands welcomed George W. Bush and his wife on Tuesday to their post-presidential home in Texas, according to AP via Yahoo! News.
"The presidency was a joyous experience, but as great as it was, nothing compares with Texas at sunset," Bush said to cheers from the crowd of about 25,000 as former first lady Laura Bush stood at his side. "Tonight I have the privilege of saying six words that I have been waiting to say for a while — it is good to be home."
In the hours leading up to his return, excerpts of some of Bush`s speeches played on a large TV screen, including remarks he made to Congress shortly after the terrorist attacks in 2001. Among the state officials who attended was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who took over after Bush became president.
One little boy waved a sign that read, "President Bush, thank you for keeping me safe" in multicolored lettering.
Bush spoke about the challenges he had faced as the 43rd president. He said that even during some of his most difficult days as president, he "was always optimistic about the future."
He lauded those who helped throughout his presidency.
"People came to Washington, D.C., not to serve George W. Bush, not to serve a political party, but they came because they wanted to serve the United States of America, and they did a fabulous job," he said.
With Bush at the rally were Karl Rove, former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others from his administration.
Bush defended decisions he said some thought unwise.
"I never took an opinion poll to tell me what to think," he said. "And I`m coming home with my head held high and a sense of accomplishment."
Jan Rhodes, a school teacher in Midland, was on hand when Bush left Midland eight years ago for his inauguration as president. She was back Tuesday.
"We watched for eight years and we`re proud of how he served us and how he represented Midland," she said.
"It`s a special day, but it`s a sad day," said Dudley Winn, a cotton farmer who drove two hours from Lubbock to greet Bush. "He did the job we asked him to do. He kept our values safe."
While Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., he spent his childhood in Midland. He returned there as an adult in the 1970s and met the future first lady, who grew up there.
After the Midland rally, the Bushes flew to Waco where about 3,000 friends and supporters, bundled up against 40-degree temperatures, greeted them at the airfield. Dozens of children sat on their parents` shoulders to get a glimpse of Bush.
"I am grateful for my friends in Texas. I am grateful that you all came out tonight, and I am thankful for having had the chance to serve our great nation for eight years," Bush told the crowd.
From Waco, the Bushes were headed to their 1,600-acre ranch in nearby Crawford where Bush said he would look in the mirror and "be proud of what I see."