February 12, 2016 – Sunny, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 57
Miles to Date: 11,701
States to Date: 28
I am deep in the heart of Texas. The land pulses with Lone Star pride, rolling with richness and strength. I pedaled twenty-five miles to Caldwell along picturesque FM 908, stopped for a delicious lunch at a Czech bakery, and continued on to College Station.
I arrived at Texas A&M in time to visit the George Bush Presidential Library, number four along my presidential library route. I had been warned that the Bush library was a snoozer, and it is. There was little drama in George Bush’s life and there is none in his library. Why it is located at Texas A&M is a mystery – the man had no formal ties to this place. But he was hell bent on denying his East Coast roots. The opening line of the orientation film is, “There is a misconception that we were from the East Coast.” It’s an odd denial for a man born in Massachusetts, educated at Andover and Yale, whose father was a Senator from Connecticut. But if Presidential Libraries are about anything, they are about shaping a message for posterity. In the United States, we are unhindered by being ‘from’ the place we are born. We choose where we are from. Fixing his legacy in marble at Texas A&M is a logical extension of George Bush’s choice to be from Texas.
Texas A&M is a sprawling campus renowned for its Corps of Cadets, the original 12th man. Although the Corps is a minority of the student body, its presence permeates the place. On a Friday afternoon, I witnessed cadets running rucksack, marching in front of Kyle Stadium, and drilling on the Quad. The Memorial Union proclaims, ‘Loyalty’, ‘Integrity’, ‘Respect’ over each entrance. The Corps owns this place.