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The 13 Best of 2013

Article by Brittney Bain and Rachel Tatro, B December 30, 2013 //   8 minute read

From the Dedication Celebration of the George W. Bush Presidential Center that welcomed five living presidents, to opening the doors to the public and expanding the work and programs of the Bush Institute, 2013 was an incredible year at the Bush Center. Here are some of this year’s many highlights:


In the spring of 2013, the Bush Center hosted former presidents, dignitaries, heads of state, former Bush Administration officials and supporters of the Bush Center from around the world for the Dedication Ceremony.  Highlights from the events surrounding Dedication included a historic gathering of all five living presidents of the United States, the signing of a joint use agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and an incredible fireworks show at the lighting of Freedom Hall.

President Bush Welcomes Students on Opening Day

On May 1, opening day of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, President Bush welcomed its first 43 visitors – school children from Dallas Independent School District.

Honoring America's Heroes

Continuing President Bush’s efforts to honor and empower our servicemen and women, the Bush Center hosted our 3rd annual Warrior 100K mountain bike ride and Warrior Open golf tournament.  This year’s W100K took place at Prairie Chapel Ranch near Waco, TX and included an inspirational three-day, 100 kilometer ride, a special performance by Texas singer-songwriter Pat Green, and brand new custom Trek bikes for each of the Warriors.  The 3rd annual Warrior Open golf tournament debuted its first ever pro-am round prior to the tournament and President Bush presented Corporal Chad Pfeifer, USA with the Champion's Cup for the 3rd straight year.   Staff Sergeant Benjamin Dellinger, USA and Captain Matthew Anderson, USA, won Warrior Cup by tying for the lowest net score. 

The Next Chapter for our Women's Initiative Fellows

Our Women’s Initiative team celebrated the graduation of their inaugural class of Fellows and welcomed the second class of Women’s Initiative Fellows early in 2013.  Beginning their journey with a five-week trip across the United States, 19 Egyptian women spent time in Dallas, Washington D.C., New York and Silicon Valley and went on to spend a full week with their various mentors across the United States. Through coursework, mentoring and hands-on training, the Fellows have gained key skills that will prepare them to return home and create the lasting change they envision for their country. 

Zambia Clinic Renovation

Continuing their commitment to the people of Africa, President and Mrs. Bush traveled to Zambia in June to refurbish a cervical cancer clinic in Livingstone.  The work is in direct support of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership – spearheaded by the Bush Institute, PEPFAR, UNAIDS and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, along with other private and public partners – which combats cervical and breast cancer in the developing world. 

African First Ladies Summit

Earlier this summer, the Bush Institute convened an African First Ladies Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at which time Mrs. Bush announced the newest program within the Women’s Initiative:  The First Ladies Initiative.  The Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative partners with First Ladies to build a robust network of women working to advance education, good health and economic opportunity for women and children worldwide.  A highlight of the summit was a conversation between Mrs. Laura Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama, moderated by Cokie Roberts.

What Immigrants Contribute

The George W. Bush Institute honored America's immigrant heritage with an official immigration naturalization ceremony in the Bush Center’s Freedom Hall.  Before America's new citizens took the oath of allegiance to the United States and received their certifications of naturalization, President Bush delivered remarks welcoming them as citizens and noting the important contributions of immigrants to our society and economy.

Margaret Spellings Joins the Bush Center

In September, Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings joined the team as the President of the Bush Center. In her new role, Spellings oversees all aspects of Bush Foundation activities, including leadership of the George W. Bush Institute, management of George W. Bush Presidential Center business operations, and collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration, which operates the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  The appointment of Spellings, one of the nation’s premier thought leaders in public policy, marks a new stage of development for the Bush Center’s policy arm, the Bush Institute. She and President Bush sat down and discussed the future of the Bush Center during her first week.

Welcoming Freedom Advocates From Around the World

The Bush Institute’s Human Freedom initiative welcomed democratic dissidents from around the world to the Bush Center in 2013. Chinese freedom advocate Chen Guangcheng visited in April and participated in a live webcast. Former political prisoner Normando Hernandez joined the Bush Institute as a Freedom Advocate Fellow where he continues his work to advance the cause of freedom in his native Cuba. North Korean political prison camp survivor Shin Dong-hyuk visited in October and told his powerful story about surviving and escaping the notorious North Korean gulags. All three are featured in the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection.

Supporting Afghan Women

This fall, Mrs. Bush continued her call on Americans to support Afghan women. In September, she traveled to New York City with Bush Center President Margaret Spellings, Director of the Women’s Initiative Charity Wallace, and members of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council. The trip included discussions with the Wall Street Journal, Fox, NBC News, and several women’s magazines about the Bush Center’s Afghan Women’s Project. In November, Mrs. Bush addressed the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council in Washington, D.C. and published an editorial in The Washington Post to voice her support and spotlight the gains Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban.

Middle School Matters Selects Schools

In August, the Bush Institute’s Middle School Matters program announced the first selection of three middle schools to receive on-site support throughout the year from some of the Nation’s leading experts in reading, math and writing instruction and intervention, dropout prevention, data management and advanced reasoning. The selected schools were: Lindale Junior High School of Lindale, Texas; Roosevelt Middle School of Erie, Pennsylvania; and Uplift Mighty Preparatory of Fort Worth, Texas.

Museum Welcomes More Than 250,000 Visitors

In November, the Bush Museum welcomed its 250,000th visitor! More than a quarter-million visitors from around the country and globe have traveled to Dallas, Texas in 2013 to visit the Bush Center in its inaugural year. It is the permanent home to the official records of the two-term Bush Presidency, and the 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit space explores education reform, 9/11, the war on terror, the spread of human freedom, the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina and other significant moments of the Bush Presidency.

Holidays at the Bush Center

2013 marked the first annual Holidays at the Bush Center. The Bush Center has welcomed thousands of visitors this holiday season with twinkling lights and trimmed trees, special seasonal menu items, limited-edition holiday merchandise and music by local choral groups.  “Home for the Holidays: Christmas at the White House 2001,” is the first in an annual series of holiday exhibits.