Ending his eight-year presidency marked by two wars, 9/11 attacks and recession, George W Bush has said he has no regrets and history will be the judge of his decisions which were based on a set of "clear principles".
"I'm coming home with my head held high and a sense of accomplishment," Bush said hours after vacating the White House on Wednesday.
"It is good to be home," the former President said on reaching his home town Midland Texas.
Bush, whose popularity reached the lowest ebb during the last phase of his tenure, said his decisions were based on a set of principles and moral values which he learnt from his families and home in Texas. He never let opinion polls influence his decisions.
"Every day, I followed a set of clear principles, principles that I learnt from my family and principles I learnt from growing up out here in West Texas and throughout this state.
"Individuals must be responsible for the actions they take in life. Our nation thrives when government trusts people with decisions about their own money and their lives," he said.
Asserting that he has no regrets, Bush said the history will be the judge of his decisions.
"When I get home tonight and look in the mirror, I'm not going to regret what I see...... Except maybe some grey hair," he said amid laughter.
Noting that "the strong have an obligation to defend the weak," Bush said "freedom is a universal gift of an almighty God, and America should use its influence to be a force for good in the world."
"Through it all, I stayed true to those convictions. And we took on big issues. I always felt it was important to tackle the tough issues today and not try to pass them on to future presidents and future generations," said Bush, who relinquished office amid worsening economy.
Referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks, he said the day changed him forever. "We took the fight to the terrorists around the world. We removed threatening regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and liberated 50 million people from the clutches of terrorism."
Acknowledging that some of his decisions might not have been popular, he said there were some good days and there were some tough days, but every day, it was an honour to be the president.
"I gave it my all. Listen, sometimes what I did wasn't popular, but that's OK. I always did what I thought was right," Bush said on his return to his home State after eight years at White House.
"Character and conscience are as sturdy as our oaks. History will be the judge of my decisions, but when I walked out of the Oval Office this morning, I left with the same values that I took to Washington eight years ago," he said.
Bush said he has some big post-presidency plans including writing a book and starting a freedom institute. "I've got some bigger ideas. I plan on keeping busy, and so does (his wife) Laura. We may be retired, but we're not tired out."
About his book, he said: "I want people to be able to understand what it was like in the Oval Office when I had to make some of the tough decisions that I was called upon to make.
"You know, history tends to take a little time for people to remember what happened and to have an objective accounting of what took place, and I'd like to be a part of making the real history of this administration come to life."