By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
DALLAS, Texas —
Enid’s Brent Kisling got to relive some old memories this week, some even brought a tear to his eyes.
Kisling attended Thursday’s opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Kisling worked as state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development during the eight years of the Bush administration.
The event was attended by President Barack Obama and the four living former presidents: George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Kisling and his wife, Jennifer, attended the opening ceremonies of the Bush library along with about 10,000 other former members of the administration and friends. Today, they will tour the presidential library.
“It was a really nice event,” Kisling said.
There were a couple of things that impressed him during the day. He said it is a good indicator of the way the nation is designed when five presidents with different backgrounds, political parties and opinions can gather to talk positively about America.
“All the speeches were amazing,” he said.
Kisling said he had lunch with other former appointees of the FDA and found out where they are now. They are in different segments of the economy, some are CEOs and some major university presidents. All worked side-by-side with Kisling during the eight years of the Bush administration.
He also was impressed with the speech delivered by Bush. Kisling said he had the opportunity to hear Bush speak often during the eight years of his administration, but the message of personal responsibility still resonates. The title of the speech was “To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required.”
“That was his mission as president, and it continues to be his mission since the presidency,” Kisling said. “His speech was the most impressive event today. We all teared up. He is a new grandparent within the last few weeks.”
Kisling also said he was impressed with Carter, who was very gracious. Clinton was “really funny,” and Kisling said his knack of timing is amazing.
“President Obama gave great remarks and honed in on how strong the Bush family is,” he said.
George H.W. Bush gave a short speech, but received one of the loudest ovations because people were happy to see him be there.
The Oval Office is replicated in the library. Kisling has been told Bush’s personality can be seen by the way it is decorated.
Kisling said he believes Bush’s greatest trait was that he was the first U.S. president with an MBA — master’s of business administration.
“Every decision we made had to have an economic return to it. He demanded that of us,” he said.
The landscaping around the library represents Bush’s West Texas ranch, and the building is a certified green building with solar panels, high insulation and low energy use, Kisling said.
State Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, also was present at the dedication.