Obama: US a ‘kinder and gentler nation’ because of George H.W. Bush

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

President Obama on Monday said the United States is “a kindler and gentler
 nation” because of former President George H.W. Bush’s contributions 
to the field of community service.

Obama made the comments after a White House lunch with the former president, who was in Washington for a ceremony commemorating his Points of Light Foundation, the nonprofit group Bush founded in 1990 to promote volunteerism.

The 5,000th Daily Point of Light was awarded on Monday.


A service member wheeled a smiling Bush onto stage at the White House for the ceremony. Michelle 
Obama and former first lady Barbara Bush were also in attendance.

“Our country s a better and stronger force for good ... and for that we 
thank President Bush and his better half, Barbara, who is just as 
committed,” Obama said. “I am one of millions of Americans who have 
been inspired by your compassion and commitment … Your vision and 
example have illuminated the path for so many others … and frankly, the 
fact that you’re such a gentleman, such a good and kind person helps 
to reinforce that spirit of service.”

“We are surely a kinder and gentler nation because of you, and we can’t
 thank you enough,” he added.

During the ceremony, Obama announced the formation of a task 
force made up of Cabinet officials to identify opportunities for 
public-private partnerships in support of national service.

The 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award went to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, whose Outreach Inc.
 delivers meals to starving children around the world.

In his 1989 inaugural address, Bush famously called community
 volunteers “a thousand points of light,” and his foundation has since
 grown into the largest nonprofit in the world dedicated to volunteer

Bush, 89, was hospitalized in Houston for nearly two months late last
 year for treatment of a bacterial infection and bronchitis. He spent
 some of that time in the intensive care unit before being released in