With 73 years of marriage in the books, Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush knew how to keep their romance alive and thriving. Married in January 1945, the couple’s marriage was truly one for the history books. Their time together included raising a huge family, watching George’s political career take them all the way to the White House, partaking in various philanthropic efforts (including Barbara’s national campaign to improve family literacy during her time as first lady) and, perhaps most wonderfully of all, lots of love letters that, according to a letter Jenna Bush Hager read live on Today this morning, will now be passed down in their family for generations to come “so they know what true devotion looks like.”
CNN published one of those love letters on Wednesday, just one day after Barbara’s death, reportedly due to health complications related to COPD and congestive heart failure. The love letter, written in 1943 by George to Barbara while he was serving in the Navy during World War II, is a precious look into the couple’s then-budding romance. In the letter, written sometime after their engagement was announced, George seems thrilled their relationship was getting more and more official as time went on. Even the way George address his beloved — “My darling Bar” — is just too sweet.
The letter begins, “This should be a very easy letter to write — words should come easily and in short it should be simple for me to tell you how desperately happy I was to open the paper and see the announcement of our engagement, but somehow I can’t possibly say all in a letter I should like to.”
George, only 19 years old at the time, is very articulate about his feelings for Barbara. He continues in the letter, writing, “I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you.”
George and Barbara likely kept up this adorable correspondence while he was serving, and it undoubtedly laid the solid foundation upon which their marriage was built. Barbara would comment later in life that she “married the first man she kissed” (that’s George, of course, and they met when she was 16) but this letter only goes to show just how evergreen their romance truly was.
Barbara stayed in the habit of writing to those she loved — not just her husband. In fact, on Today this morning, the presidential couple’s granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, shared with Today coanchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and their colleague Craig Melvin the last email Barbara wrote to her. Reading it aloud on air, one line hit particularly hard: “I am watching you. I love you. Ganny.”
Bush Hager also confirmed to her Today colleagues the Bush family was staying strong in the wake of the loss of their family matriarch.