“Be honest with me” Bush Middle School principal Linda O’Shaughnessy said over an audience of muttering seventh- and eighth-grade students, “raise your hand if you know something about George Washington Bush”
Half of the hands in the bleachers shot toward the ceiling. “ All the eighthgraders’ hands better be up” O’Shaughnessy calls to her upperclassmen, who were all enrolled in Pacific Northwest History this year.
George Washington Bush Middle School in Tumwater celebrated its 20th anniversary this month with the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the school’s namesake, as well as two other veterans from the War of 1812 who settled in Thurston County.
The monument sits at the entrance of the school, its shiny black surface engraved with a portrait of its namesake . Underneath the portrait is a statement honoring the lives of Bush and his wife, Isabella, as well as Jeremiah Mabie and William Rutledge, the only known veterans of the War of 1812 who were based in Thurston county. The statement was written and fact-checked by social studies teachers at Bush Middle School, according to O’Shaughnessy.
“They are the oldest known American veterans in Thurston County” said Linda Lind, president of Washington State Society of the United States Daughters of 1812. “That’s why they’re important”
As one of the first settlers in Tumwater in the 1800s, Bush’s influence in the community is noted not only through the monument and the middle school, but also through the memories of Tumwater citizens. Robert Champion, ground supervisor of Mills & Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park, was eager to partner with Lind, based on the personal significance Bush held in his family.
“My dad would always talk about George Bush, and when this came up and we were offered to actually do something, all I could think of was the stories my dad told me” Champion said.
The enthusiasm over the new monument was a long time coming for the Daughters of 1812, who have been working since 2012 to erect the monument with the financial help of Mills & Mills and Premiere Memorial.
“The society carries on its work to keep alive the memory of the War of 1812 because that’s its purpose … we live in the wrong spot of the country to make this exciting, so that’s why this is so significant” Lind said.
The staff and students at Bush Middle School welcomed the monument as a representation of the rich history in the Tumwater community, as well as an artistic indication of the school’s personal identity.
“Most people are familiar with the Bushes as presidents, so it’s really been a pleasure to share with people who George Washington Bush really was” O’Shaughnessy said. “Not only will we have students and families knowing about George Washington Bush, but I’m hoping that people will stop by because we have the monument here … I think that’s a fabulous way for kids to know about who our school is named after”