Former President George W. Bush visited the Valley on Oct. 18 to open a traveling exhibition of his paintings, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. Brought to Phoenix by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Arizona Historical Society and the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute, Portraits of Courage grewout of Bush’s personal commitment to veterans and the ongoing work of the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative.
Following a tour of the gallery, guests were invited into the auditorium, where Bush interviewed U.S. Army veterans many colon and Tim Gaestel, subjects in the portraits on display. The conversation revealed how these men are recovering from both the visible and invisible wounds of war, as well as the connection between Bush and the post-9/11 veterans he has gotten to know.
Portraits of Couragebrings together 66 full-color portraits and a four-panel mural painted by Bush of 98 service members and veterans who have served our nation with honor. The Arizona Historical Society’s Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park in Tempe is one of just four venues to host the paintings this year. Portraits of Couragewill be on display through Dec. 29, 2018.
Each painting is accompanied by the inspiring story of the warrior depicted, written by Bush. As the stories unfold, readers and visitors will encounter the faces and the hearts of those who answered the nation’s call and learn of their bravery on the battlefield, their journey to recovery and the continued leadership and contribution they make as civilians. The exhibit also includes information and resources created by the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative that visitors can use to learn how to better support post-9/11 warriors in their communities. These resources are intended to help bridge the military-civilian divide.
The paintings are also the subject of a hardcover book by the same name, available now in stores and online. Bush is donating 100 percent of his profits from the book to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, whose Military Service Initiative works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.
PHOTOS BY GRANT MILLER