George W. Bush chokes up at library dedication (video)

Speaking after four other presidents sang his praises at the dedication of his Dallas library, an emotional George W. Bush called his time in office "the honor of a lifetime."

"There was a time in my life I wouldn't be found in a library, much less found one," Bush joked at the start of his remarks. But he quickly turned serious. While President Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush avoided areas of disagreement with the 43rd president in their remarks, Bush acknowledged the controversy surrounding his tenure.

"One of the benefits of freedom is that people can disagree. It's fair to say I created plenty of opportunities to exercise that right," he said, to laughter. "But when future generations come to this library and study this administration, they're going to find out that we stayed true to our convictions."

He highlighted his record on taxes, education, and AIDS policy. And he offered a subtle defense of his foreign policy, saying, "When our freedom came under attack, we made the tough decisions required to keep people safe.”

By the end of his speech, Bush was fighting back tears.

"It was the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States," he concluded. "Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nations best days lie ahead."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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