Neil Bush: What 41 wants for his birthday

Story highlights

  • His son says former President George H.W. Bush wants more than a skydive for his 90th
  • Neil Bush: Dad wants to continue to encourage people to serve the community
  • He says encouraging volunteer service was a hallmark of 41's presidency
  • Neil Bush: Volunteer as a way to honor my dad -- or yours

People keep asking me what my dad might like for his 90th birthday on June 12. I think I can answer that one.

He'd like to jump out of an airplane and feel that freedom one more time.

He'd like to have his family and close friends around him for a quiet celebration.

He'd like a good martini with a couple of olives.

Neil Bush
Bush Sr. skydives on 90th birthday
Bush Sr. skydives on 90th birthday

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But most of all, I know he'd like you, on the occasion of his birthday, to give to others. Volunteer service is Dad's true north. He made it a centerpiece of his presidency, encouraging millions of people to look within to find "your own special genius for helping others."

He gave 1,020 Daily Point of Light Awards from the White House to inspire people to volunteer and to prove that "somewhere in America, every serious social problem is being solved through voluntary service, for therein lies the greatest national resource of all."

In the years since he left the White House, Dad joined forces with former President Bill Clinton to support victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami -- and the volunteers who showed up afterward to help rebuild.

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Last July, he and Mom traveled to the White House to join President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and hundreds of others in a special ceremony to present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to an Iowa couple fighting world hunger one meal at a time.

So what would he really like for his birthday? He'd like you to go to BeOne.PointsofLight.org and pledge to pitch in. As Dad said, "It doesn't matter who you are. Everybody's got something to give: a job skill, a free hour, a pair of strong arms."

I hope you'll volunteer as a way to honor my Dad -- or yours (Father's Day is Sunday). Or volunteer as a way to be good to yourself; researchers say it leads to healthier, happier lives.

Whatever your cause, whatever your motivation, I hope you'll agree with me that volunteer service is an extraordinary gift. Thanks for everything and happy birthday, Dad.

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