Weekly Columns

Former President George H.W. Bush lived a life dedicated to faith, family and his country. As we mourn his passing and share memories of his life and his remarkable leadership, we are reminded of his example of service and encouraged to open our hearts and give back to our own communities.   

The 41stPresident, fond of writing letters, once wrote “I believe I was right when I said, as president, there can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.” He found fulfillment and gratification in service and knew that, with a little concerted effort, his fellow Americans could experience that same joy. This doesn’t mean that we must accept the same roles and responsibilities of the former president, but rather that we all have a part to play in making our neighborhood, community, state, country and world a better place. 

America is shaped by individuals who take initiative to serve others. Average citizens of all ages and backgrounds recognizing a need in their communities and contributing their talents and skills to make a difference happens every day in various capacities across our country. We don’t have to look far to find examples of Arkansans who are serving causes greater than themselves.  

As a seventh grader, Alexis Roberson of Caraway was honored for her volunteerism. She experienced hardships growing up which fueled her passion to help others in difficult circumstances. This included launching ‘Books for Bailey,’ in memory of her friend who dreamed of collecting coloring books and crayons for sick children. 

Those called to serve also wear our nation’s uniform and selflessly bear the burden of defending our interests, no matter the cost. Army Sergeant First Class Eric Emond, a member of 1stBattalion, 3rdSpecial Forces Group, called Springdale, Arkansas home when he enlisted in the Marine Corps 21 years ago. He dedicated his career to the military, serving in the Marines and later joining the Army. In 2009, he was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Even during his recovery, he continued to help others, co-founding the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, an organization that honors the fallen and supports Gold Star families.

In November, while on his seventh overseas deployment, Sgt. Emond was killed after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Now his family will become a beneficiary of the organization he helped launch. In perhaps no better form of tribute, his friends remember Sgt. Emond as a person who was always doing the right thing for someone else. 

I too have found that a life of public service is extremely rewarding because there is nothing more fulfilling and worthwhile than helping others. From my time as an eyecare provider to sitting on the fair board and the local school board and eventually serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, some of the most memorable moments of my career have centered around opportunities to give back or play a part in supporting, aiding or advocating on behalf of someone else. 

We all have the capability within us. The opportunities are there and we shouldn’t overlook them or let them pass us by. Americans will continue to embrace George H.W. Bush’s vision of service and its noble calling. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations to serve the same great cause.