Jenna Bush Hager is diving head-first into celebrating what would’ve been George H.W. Bush’s 97th birthday.
Live on-air, the “Today” show co-host honored her late grandfather Thursday morning by jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet — a sentimental tribute to his “love of skydiving and philosophy of living life to the fullest.”
While waiting near the plane’s jump zone with Sgt. 1st class Joseph Abe-Lynn of the Army’s parachute team, Hager looked visibly nervous, asking, “Oh God. Why did I say yes to this?”
“For Gampy,” she reminded herself.
Moments later, Hager jumped out of the plane with Abe-Lynn, documenting the “exhilarating” yet “terrifying” experience in real-time to the “Today” team back at Studio 1A.
“It feels like floating,” she said once her chute deployed. “It’s peaceful and beautiful right now. I feel close to all the people I’ve been missing.”
Along with celebrating her grandfather’s birthday, Bush also honored the Army’s 246th birthday on by landing on the historic grounds of the National Museum of the United States Army.
Would she try skydiving again? “A thousand times,” Hager said.
Her mother, Laura Bush, surprised her by joining the broadcast, noting that the continued skydiving tradition, which the Bush patriarch did on his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays, was “a great honor to your Gampy.”
“He always said make sure you enjoy the game and I think there’s no better way to enjoy it than by living like this, so I hope he would be proud,” Hager responded.
The former president, who managed the end of the Cold War and forged a global coalition to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait, died at age 94 on Nov. 30, 2018 — months after the death of his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush.
“It’s broken my heart because you can’t really celebrate the memory of people the way you would want to,” Hager told USA TODAY in September 2020. “There’ve been so many people who have had to bury their loved ones without any sort of fanfare or celebration, without the many people that probably wanted to celebrate their life.”
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