In eulogizing former president George H.W. Bush, who died Friday in his Houston home, many have highlighted his compassionate nature and career in service.
When he’s carried to his final resting place later this week, however, the former president will be wearing a piece of clothing that accentuates another staple of his legacy — his distinct collection of exuberant socks.
“The 41st President will be carried to his final rest wearing socks that pay tribute to his lifetime of service, starting as an 18-year-old naval aviator in war,” Jim McGrath, Bush’s post-White House spokesman, wrote in a Monday morning tweet. “That legacy is now being carried, in part, by the brave, selfless men and women aboard [the USS George H.W. Bush]. #Remembering41.”
Bush’s love for fanciful socks is well documented, and it seems that he had a pair for any occasion. USA Today notes that Bush once wrote in a fundraising email from the Republican National Committee: “I’m a self-proclaimed sock man. The louder, the brighter, the crazier the pattern — the better.”
He was diagnosed with vascular parkinsonism in 2007, which affected his ability to walk. In her book “My Father, the President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H.W. Bush,” Doro Bush Koch wrote that because he used wheelchairs and scooters, Bush’s ankles were always visible.
“Brandishing colorful socks is simply his way of making the best of his mobility situation and still finding the joy in life,” she wrote.
This particular pair of socks, with planes flying in formation, is a distinct nod to Bush’s naval service. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and became one of the youngest pilots to receive his wings. While flying a torpedo bomber over the Pacific Ocean in 1944 during World War II, Bush’s plane was shot down by Japanese forces, requiring him to bail out and parachute into the ocean. Bush was rescued by a submarine; his two crew mates did not survive.
That moment was especially formative for the future commander in chief — who would win the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism under fire — making the socks a fitting tribute.
A look through the late president’s Twitter feed provides several examples of his flamboyant sock choices.
Earlier this year, during a visit with former president Bill Clinton, Bush wore a pair of socks with his successor’s face on them:
During a May viewing of the musical “Hamilton,” Bush wore a star-studded pair of socks perfectly suited for the production.
Later, he wore a pair to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. The socks were designed by John Cronin, a man with Down syndrome who designs socks to raise awareness for autism and for just about any other occasion:
McGrath, as well as Bush’s granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, have also tweeted out more examples of his eye-popping socks over the years:
Dozens more photos of Bush and his flamboyant socks can be found on his website.
An official schedule for Bush’s state funeral and related services in Washington and Texas was published here. He will be buried at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Tex.