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TODAY -- Pictured: Jenna Bush Hager on Wednesday, April 24, 2024© Getty Images

Jenna Bush Hager tears up honoring late grandfather George H.W. Bush on 100th birthday — the fearless way her family is celebrating

The Today with Hoda and Jenna host's former POTUS grandfather passed away in 2018

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
June 12, 2024
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Jenna Bush Hager, along with many others in the nation, is honoring what would've been the milestone 100th birthday of her late grandfather, George H.W. Bush.

Bush was the 41st President of the United States, serving from 1989-1993, followed not long after by his son and Jenna's father George W. Bush, the 43rd POTUS, from 2001-2009.

Jenna, 42, appeared on the main edition of the Today Show the morning of June 12 to honor her late grandfather, who passed away in November 2018 at the age of 94, with an emotional letter recounting his many sweet qualities and the love for his family and country.

Calling him "Gampy," she read to viewers a letter that she'd written to him, like so many others he'd written for cherished family members in his lifetime as well, mentioning all the reasons why the family so dearly missed him.

"We miss your rules: Don't be afraid to shed a tear when your heart is broken or because a friend is hurting. Nobody likes an overbearing big shot. As you succeed, be kind to people. Thank those who help you along the way," she read.

Former US President George H.W. Bush (L) with wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and grand-daughters Barbara (L) and Jenna, wave as they walk through the Rotunda on Capitol Hill 20 January, 2005. With a pledge to battle terrorism and promote democracy around the world, US President George W. Bush was to launch his new term today under an unprecedented security blanket and a dusting of snow. Bush, 58, was to be sworn in outside the US Capitol at noon (1700 GMT), in the 55th US presidential swearing-in and the first since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that transformed his time in office. © Getty Images
Jenna honored her late grandfather with a letter she'd written to him

She also revealed that many of his grandchildren will be following the tradition he'd established of jumping out of a plane every birthday, to honor the military, by doing so themselves. Unfortunately, she mentioned that since she was at work with co-anchor Hoda Kotb, she couldn't join in.

MORE: Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager reveal big news they've 'been waiting for' live on Today: 'Finally'

"Gampy, you have been gone for eight years, but we feel you still as we look into the sky and see a thousand points of light… in simple acts of love… in the smiles of your great grandchildren," Jenna concluded.

Former POTUS George H. W. Bush passed away in November 2018 at the age of 94© Getty Images
Former POTUS George H. W. Bush passed away in November 2018 at the age of 94

As the segment cut back to the studio, Jenna got choked up as she fought back the tears, as did her co-hosts, and Hoda in particular felt it too.

MORE: Jenna Bush Hager's three kids: meet Mila, Poppy, and Hal

"The life lessons he taught that you summed up in that short piece were incredible," she told her co-anchor. "And what struck me so was the kindness. It's like, we're better when we're kinder." Jenna added: "He was gentle. He led with kindness. He wanted to be the type of leader that listened."

President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush and former President George H.W. Bush sit surrounded by family in the Red Room of the White House January 6, 2005 in Washington, DC. Friends and family joined former President Bush and Barbara Bush in celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at a dinner. Also pictured are:  (L to R) Georgia Grace Koch, Margaret Bush, Walker Bush, Marvin Bush, Jenna Bush, Doro Koch, Barbara Bush, Robert P. Koch, Pierce M. Bush, Maria Bush, Neil Bush, Ashley Bush, Sam LeBlond, Robert Koch, Nancy Ellis LeBlond, John Ellis Bush, Jr., Florida Gov. John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, Mandi Bush, George P. Bush, and Columba Bush.© Getty Images
Through three Presidency terms between George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, the illustrious family has remained close

They recalled a moment that rang true, when the late Bush went to greet then-President Barack Obama when he flew to their home airport, even though he was in a wheelchair. "He said, 'If the President of the United States flies through your airport, you go and you greet him'," she remembered.

MORE: Hoda Kotb reveals what she really thought of Jenna Bush Hager when she first joined Today

Before beginning his weather forecast, Al Roker added to the conversation as well, showing Jenna a framed photograph of himself with the late Bush and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush, with letters they'd written to him.

US President George HW Bush sits behind his desk in the White House's Oval Office, Washington DC, October 2, 1990.© Getty Images
"Gampy, you have been gone for eight years, but we feel you still as we look into the sky and see a thousand points of light…"

"I spoke at an event that your grandpa and grandma [were at], and they sent me the loveliest letters. It's one of my prized possessions," he said with pride, and Jenna gushed: "I love that you have that" and thanked him for sharing it with them.

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