Hofstra preserves memories from Bush's 1997 speech

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Former President George H.W. Bush addressed hundreds of scholars and officials at the 1997 Presidential Conference on the campus of Hofstra University.

University archivist Geri Solomon has been preserving memorabilia leading up to and from the event ever since. She has collected the conference programs and papers, banquet invitations, student newspapers and yearbooks, letters from the president, and more.

Many Americans are remembering the 41st president as an extraordinary man who during his time in office tried to rise above partisanship and cared deeply about what was best for the country.

Professor Richard Himelfarb of the Political Science Department had a chance to meet and talk to Bush at the three-day conference. He recalled him as someone who was personable and patient.

"He was polite, he was gracious, he spent about seven or eight hours here, he spoke a number of times, he stood on a receiving line for people to take pictures with," Himelfarb said.

Hofstra University has been hosting its Presidential Conferences since 1982 (when FDR was the topic) to look back at the politics and each president's time in office.

Some of those who were there said that President Bush's visit was one of the most memorable.

"This was the first time where you not only had the president but you had Vice President Quayle, you had Secretary of Defense Cheney who came, you had Brian Mulroney—he was the prime minister of Canada, who was here, Mikhail Gorbachev was here," Himelfarb said. "Virtually every member of the cabinet was here. And here is what was interesting—they all had nothing but laudatory things to say."

The one-term president made an everlasting impact and proved his past deserves to be preserved.