Bush looks back on some dreams fulfilled

Posted Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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kennedy UNIVERSITY PARK -- George W. Bush has presided over an Opening Day before. And bigger.

When he opened Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 1994, the crowd was 46,000, and Bush said owning a ballclub was a "dream come true."

By then, Bush was already on to a new dream.

As the Republican nominee for Texas governor, he was relaunching a political career that would take him to Washington and back to another Opening Day in Texas.

"Today marks a major milestone in a journey that began 20 years ago," he said Thursday, now 66 and speaking not from home plate but from the steps of the new George W. Bush Presidential Center.

"Some of you were there that day. I mean, a lot of you were there that day," Bush, 66, said with a grin.

"I picture you a little younger."

Back in November 1993, when Bush announced that campaign, it was to 300 friends in a Dallas hotel.

Nolan Ryan was newly retired from Bush's Texas Rangers and a 27-year baseball career. When the Ballpark opened the next spring, Ryan threw out the first pitch in the grand-opening exhibition game.

Now also 66 and a Rangers executive, Ryan was among 8,000 invitees Thursday for Opening Day.

"This is a very special day," he told Star-Telegram reporter Anna Tinsley.

When Bush was kicking off that campaign, college debate star Ted Cruz of Houston was 22 and in Harvard Law School.

By 2001, Cruz was a policy advisor in Bush's White House. He met his wife, Heidi, there.

Then came 9-11.

"The courage and resilience he demonstrated at a time of enormous peril brought America together," Cruz, now 42, said before the ceremony.

Cruz said he has visited President George H.W. Bush's library in College Station and the Reagan Library in California, describing both as "walking down memory lane."

He wanted to see how the Bush Center presents 9-11 and Bush's ground zero speech.

"The defining moment of the Bush presidency was when President Bush stood on that pile of rubble with a bullhorn," Cruz said.

"People were hurting. People were scared. ... That was a powerful moment."

Yet in Bush's speech, he never specifically said "9-11" or "Sept. 11."

Only: "When our freedom came under attack, we made the tough decisions required to keep the American people safe."

Later, Bush said he saw American character in the firefighters "who charged up the stairs into the flames to save people's lives from burning towers."

It was a perfect Opening Day: mostly sunny.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Twitter: @BudKennedy

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