When Bush visited area

Then-GOP National Committee secretary George H.W. Bush is seen at the 1973 Northern Michigan University winter semester commencement, where he was keynote speaker. (Photo courtesy of NMU Archives)

MARQUETTE — George Bush, as he was known at the time, came to Marquette in December 1973, a few days before Christmas to give the Northern Michigan University commencement address.

As a matter of fact, he was a fill-in for the secretary of the Atomic Energy Commission who had to cancel. At the time, he was the chairman of the Republic National Committee and was little known.

The Mining Journal reporters peppered him with questions about politics, the Republican Party and Watergate, which he graciously answered.

He gave the commencement address to several hundred graduates in the Hedgcock Fieldhouse. In typical George H.W. Bush style, he made some amusing introductory comments to keep his talk short.

His comments were drawn from his experience “as those two exciting years when I was ambassador to the United Nations.” His remarks show the broad depth of his experience and his view of the world and its problems — population, environment, world peace, the Middle East, war in Pakistan and India, to name a few.

He also showed his personal relationships with ambassadors dealing with world problems.

Chairman Bush concluded saying: “I have that inner strength that comes from involvement and participation. Right or wrong, I’m in the ball game.”

He ended urging the students to get involved with politics and the world. Taking his own advice, he stayed the course and became our 41st president in 1988.

Editor’s note: Dr. Russ Magnaghi is a retired NMU history professor who resides in the Marquette area.