MIDLAND, Texas – Waving cardboard red, white and blue "W"s, thousands gathered in Midland's town square Tuesday to welcome former President George W. Bush and his wife to their post-presidential home in Texas.
"It's a special day, but it's a sad day," said Dudley Winn, a cotton farmer who drove two hours from Lubbock to greet Bush on his first stop after leaving office. "He did the job we asked him to do. He kept our values safe."
As about 20,000 watched, the jet carrying Bush and his wife, Laura, flew over downtown so they could see Centennial Plaza from the air. The jet landed shortly before 5 p.m.
Earlier, excerpts of some of Bush's speeches played on a large TV screen to the crowd. The signs waved by those in the crowd included one from a little boy, reading: "President Bush, thank you for keeping me safe" in multicolored lettering.
Jan Rhodes, a school teacher in Midland, was on hand when Bush left Midland eight years ago for his inauguration as president. She was back Tuesday.
"We watched for eight years, and we're proud of how he served us and how he represented Midland," she said.