Five years out of the White House, George Bush opened his presidential library Thursday with inauguration-style pomp that included a salute from the man who sent him into retirement.
An estimated 20,000 people, including President Clinton and former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, gathered to dedicate the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University. The school's band played, its cadets sang and a team of parachutists bailed out overhead.
Bush, whose mother discouraged boastfulness so forcefully that the 73-year-old former president often drops the word "I" from his sentences, was a bit uneasy with all the fuss.
"There is one thing left for me to do _ apologize to my mother," Bush told the crowd. "I'm afraid some of these exhibits today might violate her "no bragging' rule. I just hope we've in some way given proper credit to all with whom I worked during every chapter of my life."
The $80-million complex, built on what once was a Texas A&M hog farm, includes displays that trace Bush's life, from young World War II bomber pilot to Yale baseball star to oilman who drove his wife, Barbara, and growing family to West Texas in a 1947 Studebaker.
Other exhibits address his tenure as CIA director, U.N. ambassador, liaison to China, vice president under Reagan and then president. He lost his re-election bid to Clinton in 1992.
"America has had a good man, whose decency and emotions served our country well, and that is the story this library will tell for generations to come," Clinton said.
The guest list included 10 governors, senators and congressmen, nearly two dozen former Bush Cabinet members and Hollywood stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Costner.
Although private money and donations were used for construction, the library will be run by the National Archives. It is the 11th public presidential library and the second in Texas. About 100 miles to the west is the Lyndon Johnson Library at the University of Texas.