By Leanne ThomasDecember 6, 2018
HONOLULU (Dec. 5, 2018) - While most federal employees were excused from duty to observe a National Day of Mourning, some staff members at Tripler Army Medical Center were called to provide essential healthcare to service members, families, and retirees from across the Pacific region.
As TAMC healthcare workers were called to care for patients, chaplains were called to lead a memorial service and candlelight vigil for staff to honor President George H.W. Bush at the hospital chapel, Dec. 5.
Col. (Chaplain) Joseph Fleury, from the TAMC Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care provided remarks in remembrance of the former president.
"Most people will remember the decisive leadership of President Bush when he led a coalition of 39 nations in Operation Desert Shield and Storm in response to Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait," said Fleury. "His famous words, 'This will not stand,' still ring in my ears."
The gathered attendees were compelled to remember as a nation of those days, how the world viewed President Bush as a moral champion in his successful attempt to "right a wrong" after the illegal annexation of Kuwait by Iraq.
For Chaplain Fleury, his memories of the former president were a bit more personal.
During the Invasion of Panama, 1989, the U.S. government and military intervened after the country's military dictator declared a state of war with the U.S., threatening the lives of American citizens there.
"I along with a couple of thousands of other U.S. military personnel was stationed in Panama during some tense and turbulent times," Fleury said. "In June of 1992, the President and Mrs. Bush risked their lives by visiting us to show their support for the troops and the restored democratic government in Panama."
As the former president was about to speak to a crowd of about 15,000 people, volleys of tear gas and gunshots were fired at a nearby protest.
"At that point, the security detail swung into action and moved the President and First Lady out of harm's way ... and I'm sure you've heard the term, 'calm under fire.' How appropriate in describing the actions of our commander-in-chief that day," Fleury said.
"We also remember a man who calmly led the free world into unchartered waters with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. A steady hand at the helm," he added.
Fleury also described President Bush as an honorable man, a trait known as one of the seven Army values.
"He lived his life and served our country with the utmost decency; as a military officer, as a politician, as a civil servant and as a president, he was known throughout his entire life as a decent human being who treated all people with dignity and respect," he said.
As hospital employees gathered to remember President Bush, #41, they also prayed for our national leaders, the Armed Forces, TAMC, and the Bush family.
Chaplain Fleury recalled a message by President George W. Bush from earlier in the day broadcasted from the National Cathedral as #43 spoke of his father's enduring faith. "This enduring faith," restated Fleury, "sustained him during the death of his daughter Robin, and most recently on the passing of his devoted wife, Barbara."
"And who of us will never forget George Bush Senior's gentle hand of reassurance reaching out to his son, the sitting President during the aftermath of 9/11 at the National Cathedral? It was a calming hand and a steadfast spirit that got us through those dark days and nights," explained Fleury. "And so we pray, 'May the angels lead you into paradise. May the saints come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem, - Amen.'"
The TAMC Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care offer confidential counseling, religious services, prayer, and pastoral care for hospital staff members, patients, and their families, located at the hospital Oceanside D wing, 3rd Floor. For more information call 808-433-5727, or after hours, 808-551-9636.