A photo of Barack and Michelle Obama consoling George W. Bush at a memorial service in 2016 is being hailed as the picture of compassion and empathy as former President Bush now copes with his mother’s recent death and his father’s hospitalization.
On Tuesday morning, hours after news broke that former President George H.W. Bush had been hospitalized in intensive care following his wife Barbara’s funeral, Twitter user @stringbeans15 shared the poignant 2016 photo, which shows former President Obama grasping George W. Bush’s hand at a memorial service for five police officers killed by a sniper during a protest march in Dallas on July 7, 2016. Bush lives in Dallas and gave a heartfelt speech at the service honoring the officers who he said were “among the best of us.”
The photo post has since racked up hundreds of likes and retweets, with former George W. Bush campaign staffer Steve Schmidt commenting: “What a beautiful picture. Two men. One woman. One is a grieving son. The other a friend. Magnanimous, gracious, classy and comforting. The woman is decent and filled with empathy. Two imperfect men who were fidelitous to their oaths. American Presidents and a great 1st lady.”
The Obamas were also by George W. Bush’s side on Saturday during his mother Barbara Bush’s funeral. A photo from the service of current First Lady Melania Trump with former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Mrs. Clinton, and Laura Bush, quickly went viral and was embraced as a symbol of the enduring strength of American democracy.
The Obama and Bush families have remained friends through the years since Barack Obama took office in 2009. In September 2016, as the political climate grew more and more tense in the final days of the presidential election, a photo of Michelle Obama hugging George W. Bush took social media by storm and was praised as a symbol of bipartisanship.
“That surprised everybody,” George W. Bush said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show at the time. “That’s what is so weird about society today, that people on opposite sides of the political spectrum could actually like each other.”
After Barbara Bush died at 92 last Tuesday, the Obamas released a joint statement praising the former first lady as “the rock of a family dedicated to public service.”
“We’ll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House, but we’re even more grateful for the way she lived her life – as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit,” the statement continued. “She’ll be remembered for passing those American values on to her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren — and to the countless citizens whom she and George inspired to become ‘points of light’ in service to others.”