With tears in his eyes, former President George W. Bush said on Thursday that he had "the honor of a lifetime" to lead the nation during his presidency as he dedicated the library, museum and policy center that bear his name.
In a rare occasion, all five living former and current U.S. presidents set aside their profound ideological differences that have divided them for years for this event held at the campus of Southern Methodist University in Texas.
The presidents - Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter - were cheered by a crowd of included foreign dignitaries, U.S. governors and about 2,500 alumni of the administration of the nation’s 43rd president.
“Oh, happy day,” said Bush.
“I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country,” said Bush, noting that he had “the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead. God bless.”
Obama praised his predecessor for showing strength and resolve in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks and said if Congress passes immigration reform "it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush."
While the living presidents have been called "the world's most exclusive club," Obama said, "Our club's more like a support group."
"Being president above all is a humbling job," Obama said. He said there were moments that they make mistakes and wish they could turn back the clock, but "we love this country and we do our best."
Bill Clinton recalled private conversations with his successor and expressed hope that the candid talks will never come to light and President George H.W. Bush spoke briefly to warm applause.
Carter praised the former president for his role in helping secure peace between North and South Sudan in 2005 and his approval of expanded aid to the nations of Africa.
The center on the campus of Southern Methodist University includes the presidential library and museum along with the 43rd president's policy institute. The center opens to the public May 1.