Former President Jimmy Carter recalled Bush's contested 2000 election--calling himself one of the only volunteer Democrats on stage at Bush's inauguration in 2001. After the ceremony, Bush offered to help Carter--and Carter asked him to do something about the civil war in Sudan. Bush, Carter said, followed through by appointing former Republican Senator John Danforth as a special envoy.
"In January, 2005 there was a peace treaty between north and south Sudan," Carter said. "George W. Bush is responsible for that."
As the ceremony began, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice introduced a slew of world leaders and Bush allies from his time in the White House. Among those in attendance were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Before the presidents spoke, former first lady Laura Bush remembered some of the most troubling times of George W. Bush's presidency--those that also came to define his time in the White House. The museum, which houses a piece of the World Trade Center, will serve as a place to preserve those moments, Laura Bush said.
"Here we remember the heartbreak and the heroism of September 11," she said.
"Throughout this center, I'm reminded of my husband. I remember the image of George standing amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm around the shoulder of a retired firefighter who grabbed his old gear to go search for the missing," Bush said. "I remember his quiet visits with the families of the fallen, sharing their stories and their tears, and I remember how steadfast and steady he was for eight years."