Dr. Charles Younger and 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush have been friends since the fourth grade. That friendship was fortified when Younger, and Bush, then a young West Texas oilman, would, coincidentally both move back to Midland in 1975. According to Dr. Younger, their friendship has continued to grow, even during the president's two terms in the White House.
Interviewed this week for the forthcoming book, "A History of Character: The Story of Midland, Texas," Dr. Younger recalled watching the premiere of "We Were Soldiers" in the White House movie theater along with President and Mrs. Bush, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, actor Mel Gibson and several others. That movie night on Pennsylvania Avenue was an occurrence that Dr. Younger still vividly recalls and speaks of fondly almost a decade later.
Dr. Younger told of how he and his wife were to have vacationed with the President and Mrs. Bush and a handful of other close friends at Camp David, Md., in a trip that had been scheduled for the weekend following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For obvious reasons, the trip was postponed.
The Midland orthopedic surgeon, like many others, remembers today the look of concern that enveloped President Bush when, while reading to a group of Florida elementary school students, he was advised by Chief of Staff Andrew Card that both of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by airplanes ten years ago this Sunday.
According to Dr. Younger, in a conference call this week to supporters, the former president recalled the anger he experienced at not being allowed to return to the White House in the hours immediately after the terrorist attack -- a move carried out by the Secret Service in an effort to protect the President and First Lady.
This is, for many, a difficult week as the nation recalls the anniversary of those attacks which still serve to separate time on the country's historical clock as pre- and post-9/11.
"I think it has to be (tough) for him to a degree," Younger said. "In the conference call earlier this week, the president went through things that went through his mind from that week and a couple stood out: the anger he felt at a couple of occurrences, number one, the communications system wasn't working very well that day, and secondly, that he was told that he was not going to get to go back home to Washington in the hours after the attacks. He was extremely upset about that."
Dr. Younger, who today maintains a relationship with Mr. Bush, said his friend "relished being president" and "woke up every day looking forward to what he had to do."
It has been written often and Dr. Younger confirmed again Thursday that Bush, "was the same man as president as he had always been. I think a lot of his values stayed the same, his morals stayed the same, his work ethic stayed the same. He didn't really change, and he hasn't to this day."