His fi­nal rest

Texas bids Bush farewell with sports stars, coun­try mu­sic and fu­neral train

The Western Star - - WORLD -

Amer­ica’s fi­nal farewell to Ge­orge H.W. Bush shifted to Texas on Thurs­day, with his friend and for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James Baker ad­dress­ing him as “Jefe,” Span­ish for “boss,” and cel­e­brat­ing him as a pres­i­dent with “the courage of a war­rior but the greater courage of a peace­maker.”

Baker fought back tears as he con­cluded his eu­logy.

Coun­try mu­sic’s Oak Ridge Boys, among the pres­i­dent’s favourites, sang “Amaz­ing Grace” and Reba McEn­tire of­fered “The Lord’s Prayer” as three days of of­fi­cial cer­e­monies in Wash­ing­ton gave way to more per­sonal touches for the Bush in Texas. The night be­fore, more than 11,000 peo­ple paid their re­spects as his cas­ket lay in re­pose all night at St. Mar­tin’s Epis­co­pal Church, where his fam­ily wor­shipped.

At Thurs­day’s fu­neral, Baker said, “The world be­came a bet­ter place be­cause Ge­orge Bush oc­cu­pied the White House for four years.”

He said that Bush em­bod­ied some of the na­tion’s best val­ues, “tem­per­ate” in thought, word and deed, “our na­tion’s very best one-term pres­i­dent.”

Ge­orge P. Bush, the for­mer pres­i­dent’s grand­son and the only mem­ber of the po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty still hold­ing elected of­fice, as Texas land com­mis­sioner, sub­se­quently struck a more per­sonal tone with the man he and the younger gen­er­a­tions called “gampy.”

The ser­vices at­tracted lo­cal sports stars in­clud­ing Hous­ton Tex­ans de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt fea­tured hymns cho­sen and loved by the for­mer pres­i­dent.

The na­tion’s cap­i­tal bid him good­bye Wed­nes­day in a Wash­ing­ton fu­neral ser­vice that of­fered high praise for the last of the pres­i­dents to have fought in World War II — and a hefty dose of hu­mour about a man whose speak­ing de­liv­ery was once de­scribed as a cross be­tween Mis­ter Rogers and John Wayne.

Bush’s cas­ket re­turned for the ser­vices in Hous­ton, a ride on a spe­cial fu­neral train and even­tual burial at his fam­ily plot on the pres­i­den­tial li­brary grounds at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity in Col­lege Sta­tion. His fi­nal rest­ing place is along­side Bar­bara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daugh­ter they lost to leukemia at age 3.

In the ser­vice at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral, three for­mer pres­i­dents and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump looked on as Ge­orge W. Bush eu­lo­gized his fa­ther as “the bright­est of a thou­sand points of light.”

The cathe­dral ser­vice was a trib­ute to a pres­i­dent, a pa­tri­arch and a faded po­lit­i­cal era that prized mil­i­tary ser­vice and pub­lic re­spon­si­bil­ity.

It was laced with in­di­rect com­par­isons to Trump but was not con­sumed by them, as speak­ers fo­cused on Bush’s pub­lic life and char­ac­ter - with plenty of cracks about his goofy side, too.

“He was a man of such great hu­mil­ity,” said Alan Simp­son, for­mer Re­pub­li­can sen­a­tor from Wyoming. Those who travel “the high road of hu­mil­ity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.,” he added point­edly, “are not both­ered by heavy traf­fic.”

Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-pres­i­dents and their wives, sev­eral of them sharp crit­ics of his pres­i­dency and one of them, Hil­lary Clin­ton, his 2016 Demo­cratic foe. Apart from cour­te­ous nods and some hand­shakes, there was lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion be­tween Trump and the oth­ers.

Ge­orge W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eu­logy while in­vok­ing the daugh­ter his par­ents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He took com­fort in know­ing “Dad is hug­ging Robin and hold­ing Mom’s hand again.”

It was a fam­ily that oc­cu­pied the White House for a dozen years - the 41st pres­i­dent de­feated af­ter one term, the 43rd serv­ing two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to ex­tend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Re­pub­li­can pri­maries.

AP PHOTO

Fam­ily and friends at­tend a fu­neral ser­vice for for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at St. Mar­tin’s Epis­co­pal Church on Thurs­day in Hous­ton.

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