Ge­orge W. Bush eu­lo­gizes his dad

Bush saluted with praise, hu­mour, can­nons at cap­i­tal farewell


WASH­ING­TON — Ge­orge H.W. Bush was cel­e­brated with high praise and lov­ing hu­mour Wed­nes­day as the na­tion bade farewell to the man who was Amer­ica’s 41st pres­i­dent and the last to fight for the U.S. in wartime. Three for­mer pres­i­dents looked on at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral as a fourth — Ge­orge W. Bush — eu­lo­gized his dad.

“To us,” the son said of the fa­ther, “his was the bright­est of a thou­sand points of light.”

Af­ter three days of funeral events in Wash­ing­ton, Bush was headed home to Texas for more cer­e­mony and then his burial Thurs­day. Af­ter the cathe­dral ser­vice, the hearse and a long mo­tor­cade drove to the Na­tional Mall to pass by the World War II Me­mo­rial, a nod to the late pres­i­dent’s ser­vice as a Sec­ond World War Navy pi­lot, then ar­rived at Joint Base An­drews.

Can­non roared again, Hail to the Chief was played for Bush for a fi­nal time in the cap­i­tal and the plane with his cas­ket and Bush fam­ily mem­bers aboard took off for Hous­ton. He died Fri­day at age 94.

Ge­orge W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eu­logy while in­vok­ing the daugh­ter his par­ents lost when she was 3 and his mother, Bar­bara, who died in April. He took com­fort in know­ing “Dad is hug­ging Robin and hold­ing Mom’s hand again.”

For all the som­bre trib­utes to the late pres­i­dent’s pub­lic ser­vice and strength of char­ac­ter, laugh­ter filled the cathe­dral time af­ter time. The late pres­i­dent’s eu­lo­gists — son in­cluded — noted Bush’s ten­dency to tan­gle his words and show his goofy side.

He was “the last great-sol­dier states­man,” his­to­rian Jon Meacham said in his eu­logy, “our shield” in dan­ger­ous times. But he also said that Bush, cam­paign­ing in a crowd in a de­part­ment store, once shook hands with a man­nequin. Rather than flush­ing in em­bar­rass­ment, he sim­ply cracked, “Never know. Gotta ask.”

He re­counted how co­me­dian Dana Car­vey once said the key to do­ing an im­per­son­ation of Bush was “Mr. Rogers try­ing to be John Wayne.”

Ge­orge W. Bush said “the man couldn’t stom­ach veg­eta­bles, es­pe­cially broc­coli,” and called that a de­fect passed down to his chil­dren.

The con­gre­ga­tion at the cathe­dral, filled with for­eign lead­ers and diplo­mats, Amer­i­cans of high of­fice and oth­ers touched by Bush’s life, rose for the ar­rival of the cas­ket, ac­com­pa­nied by clergy of faiths from around the world. In their row to­gether, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and for­mer pres­i­dents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clin­ton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Meacham also praised Bush’s call to vol­un­teerism — his “1,000 points of light” — plac­ing it along­side Abra­ham Lincoln’s call to hon­our “the bet­ter an­gels of our na­ture” in the Amer­i­can rhetor­i­cal canon. Meacham called those lines “com­pan­ion verses in Amer­ica’s na­tional hymn.”

Trump had mocked “1,000 points of light” last sum­mer at a rally, say­ing “What the hell is that? Has any­one ever fig­ured that one out? And it was put out by a Re­pub­li­can, wasn’t it?”

AlanSimp­son, for­mer Re­pub­li­can sen­a­tor from Wyoming, re­galed the con­gre­ga­tion with sto­ries from his years as Bush’s friend in Wash­ing­ton. More se­ri­ously, he re­called that when he went through a rough patch in the po­lit­i­cal game, Bush con­spic­u­ously stood by him against the ad­vice of aides. “You would have wanted him on your side,” he said.

Simp­son said Bush “loved a good joke — the richer the bet­ter. And he threw his head back and gave that great laugh, but he never, ever could re­mem­ber a punch­line. And I mean never.”

Ge­orge W. Bush turned the hu­mour back on the acer­bic exse­n­a­tor, say­ing of the late pres­i­dent: “He placed great value on a good joke, so he chose Simp­son to speak.”

Bush will lie in re­pose at St. Mar­tin’s Epis­co­pal Church be­fore burial at his fam­ily plot on the pres­i­den­tial li­brary grounds at Texas A&M Univer­sity in Col­lege Sta­tion. His fi­nal rest­ing place will be along­side Bar­bara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daugh­ter they lost to leukemia in 1953.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, a mil­i­tary band played Hail to the Chief as Bush’s cas­ket was car­ried down the steps of the U.S. Capi­tol, where he had lain in state. Fam­ily mem­bers looked on as ser­vice­men fired off a can­non salute.

His hearse was then driven in a mo­tor­cade to the cathe­dral cer­e­mony, slow­ing in front of the White House. Bush’s route was lined with peo­ple much of the way, bun­dled in win­ter hats and tak­ing pho­tos.

Wait­ing for his ar­rival in­side, Trump shook hands with Obama and for­mer first lady Michelle Obama, who greeted him by say­ing “Good morn­ing.” Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton, who looked straight ahead.

Bill Clin­ton and Mrs. Obama smiled and chat­ted as mu­sic played. Carter was seated si­lently next to Hil­lary Clin­ton in the cav­ernous cathe­dral. Obama cracked up laugh­ing at some­one’s quip. Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence shook Carter’s hand.

AN­DREW HARNIK/The as­so­ci­aTed PRess FiLes

The flag-draped cas­ket of for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush is car­ried by a mil­i­tary hon­our guard dur­ing a State Funeral at the Na­tional Cathe­dral, on Wed­nes­day, in Wash­ing­ton.

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