I grew up in the age of Reagan. I grew up with Star Wars and calling the Soviet Union the Evil Empire that it was. I became an adult in the age of Bush Senior when Sodamn Insane attacked Kuwait. When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. It’s impossible to underestimate how much the first Bush presidency changed every one of our lives, even those of us who weren’t alive to see any of it. But even now, people ask who he really was.

Well, for starters he volunteered to serve in World War II. He flew an Avenger torpedo bomber over the Pacific. You need to understand what that meant. He did not fly maneuverable fighters as some new outlets claim, dancing with Japanese Zeros. He did not fly high-speed dive-bombers that screamed down on their targets from the clouds on high. He flew torpedo bombers that went low and slow over the oceans to sneak in an attack on the Japanese with heavy bombs or torpedoes that could sink ships or destroy entire installations. If the Japanese saw them coming, they died. Read about what happened to the torpedo bomber squadrons in the Battle of Midway if you want to know what happened to them. Or just look at Bush Senior’s squadron. In 1944 alone, during the final stages of the War Against Japan, his squadron suffered 300 percent casualties. That means his fellow pilots died. Their replacements died. And THEIR replacements died. Bush was personally shot out of two planes and was rescued by American naval units in the area. Bush did not have a safe position behind the lines. He flew out 58 times to attack the Japanese with one of the most devastating weapons we had in the air war against them. And one of the most vulnerable. He was a real life American Hero.

He went into politics after that and joined the Republican Party in Texas during a time when Democrats hunted Republicans with dogs according to certain political analysts. I’m mostly certain they were exaggerating for effect, but it sure wasn’t Republican territory back then. He soon became a mover and a shaker in the Republican Party. He lived in an insular China devastated by World War II and helped bring it into the rest of the world economic system. He became the head of the Republican Party and convinced Nixon to resign for the good of the country and the party. He Directed the Central Intelligence Agency. He raced against Reagan for the Presidential Nomination and lost, and then accepted Reagan’s offer to be Vice President. And what did he do as Reagan’s Vice President?

Well, here’s one example. He personally traveled to the El Salvadoran jungle when the rebellious generals were sending out missions to kill civilians. He smiled when the armed El Salvadoran guards walked in on them and asked them to give him and the generals a moment to talk. Then he delivered President Reagan’s demand that the rebels change their tactics or lose American support in front of those armed guards, turned, and walked out of the conference to give them all time to think about it. That’s Genuine American Badass material right there. Rambo bows in his general direction. Chuck Norris wishes he could be that awesome. Imagine the memes of Bush Senior if people had memed back then.

The fact is that Bush Senior changed politics. He took an isolationist, small government, small business Republican Party and fundamentally transformed it in his lifetime. His Republican Party became far more unapologetically globalist in nature. It became far more big government and big business friendly under his hand. And it cooperated with the rest of the world far more. He deeply believed that America was strongest when we worked with the other nations rather than on our own. And he followed his own words when he said that one should never let the first time you talked to someone be when you were asking for help. He wrote letters to people every single day and his rolodex was astounding in its size and scope. And people answered when he called.

And it’s impossible to say how much the world changed during his tenure. When he became President, we were in Cold War with the Soviet Union. When he left the Presidency, there was no Soviet Union at all. The Cold War was over. We were victorious. He brought together one of the largest historical alliances of nations that ever existed to fight Saddam Hussein’s Million Man Iraqi Army and drive it from Kuwait. America rode an all-time high of world popular opinion when he left. There are people who say that he was the most influential one-term President in the history of the Republic. I can’t really argue with that statement.

Did you know he was the last Veteran of Foreign Wars to serve as President? That his son was the last President who served in the military AT ALL? We’ve entered a new era of politics since he served. One that he would not have found prudent at this juncture. He fought evil as a young man, and fought discourtesy his entire life. He didn’t call his political foes evil or send his people to terrorize them. He smiled, said what he thought with a kindly demeanor, and walked out to let us all process it. He fought by being nice enough to his allies and foes that all of them would say nice things about him when he died. And that right there is a real hard act to follow.

Goodbye Mister President.