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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Among the hundreds attending the funeral of the late President Bush was former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who first met the President nearly 40 years ago.
“The feeling of, it was like a large extended family, even people I didn’t know well, people had a President Bush anecdote. Probably most of them had a thank you note somewhere in their dresser or their desk. I mean it was a true celebration,” Ridge said.
Ridge spoke to KDKA political editor Jon Delano shortly after the funeral at the National Cathedral where the President was eulogized.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful celebration of an extraordinary life well-lived,” Ridge said.
Ridge was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress and suffered a hearing disability, and he got to know Bush over the years.
“Through family and friends, began spending a little time up in Kennebunkport and got to know him in a more personal way,” he said.
Later in life, Ridge was chair of the National Organization on Disability, and Bush was honorary chair, having signed the Americans with Disabilities Act during his presidency.
“Of all his accomplishments as president, he looked back on that one as being the most significant thing he did,” Ridge said.
Ridge says he visited the President in Maine, most recently a year ago.
“When President Bush in his remarks talked about taking Fidelity and just charging across the Atlantic Ocean, I sat in that boat a couple times and he did like to fly,” he said.
And Ridge urged all politicians — indeed, all Americans — to follow the late President’s example.
“If all the eulogies and all the kind words about President Bush — if all who utter them and written them will now act upon them and emulate them. We should not only admire how he conducted business, but if you really want to honor his legacy, then we should emulate how he conducted business,” Ridge said.