Colorado diplomats remember President George H.W. Bush

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. — On the living room table at Sam Zakhem’s Lakewood home, a small bronze statue of former President George H.W. Bush demands attention.

The statue carries the words “bold vision,” and features the former president holding a fist in the air.

It’s one of a few pieces of memorabilia Zakhem is holding closer since Friday night.

“I stayed up until about midnight here, watching sadly, with a tear in my eye,” says Zakhem. “He was a great president and a good, humanitarian man.”

Zakhem and the Bushes

Zakhem was the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain during the Persian Gulf War, working closely with President Bush.

“He stayed the course,” says Zakhem. “Mr. Bush drew a line in the sand and said, ‘This aggression will not stand.'”

“Mr. Bush was a seasoned diplomat, a person who knew that politics demands – not just needs – but demands give-and-take… working with people who do not believe the way you do,” he says.

A few miles away, another former U.S. ambassador with ties to President Bush calls Colorado home.

Chris Hill currently directs Global Engagement for the University of Denver, but served as the U.S. ambasasdor to Albania during President Bush’s term as president.

Zakhem and Bush

“From the vantage point of a foreign service officer, you really felt you had a president there who understood what you were doing,” says Hill. “Whenever I had the opportunity to see him in the White House, working with a foreign leader, that foreign leader had no doubt he was with a friend.”

Both former diplomats say Bush will be remembered for his fearless-yet-gentle demeanor and his ability to compromise.

“I wish he could have lived forever,” says Zakhem. “But we all have to go.”

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