HOUSTON - Former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush were honored by the Mensch International Foundation for their service to others.
At a ceremony at Congregation Beth-Israel in Meyerland on Wednesday, the Bush's were presented with the "Mensch Award", celebrating a commitment to tolerance and human rights.
"I want to speak as one of the proudest sons on the face of the earth," said an emotional Neil Bush, as he spoke on behalf of his parents. "They are always reaching out and helping others, thinking of ways to make this a better world."
Neil Bush said his parents were especially disturbed over the recent attacks on Jewish cemeteries and community centers.
"My parents are here because we must speak out against the depravity in our midst and continue to condemn it in clear and simple ways," he said.
The Mensch Award and Mensch International Foundation was conceived by Steven Geiger, a man who escaped communist Hungary in the 1950s. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
"The best compliment you can give someone is, 'you're a mensch'," said Geiger. "In Yiddish, it has special meaning, that somebody will take the shirt off his back to give to you, to help you, somebody who looks out for you."
Geiger presented the honor to both former President Bush and Mrs. Bush.
"They have a good heart," said Geiger. "I think young people should know it is still possible to get people in leadership positions who aren't just out for themselves."
Allergies almost kept the former president away from the ceremony. At the last minute, he told his staff he wanted to go to accept the honor.
"He is just a good human being," said Geiger. "His wife is very tough, but also a good human being."