Bush re­mem­bered as ‘great man’ and ‘gen­tle soul’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE na­tion’s cap­i­tal em­braced Ge­orge H.W. Bush in death with solemn cer­e­mony and high trib­utes to his ser­vice and de­cency, as the re­mains of the 41st pres­i­dent took their place in the Capi­tol ro­tunda for three days of mourn­ing and praise by the po­lit­i­cal elite and ev­ery­day cit­i­zens alike.

With Bush’s cas­ket atop the Lin­coln Catafalque, first used for Abra­ham Lin­coln’s 1865 fu­neral, dig­ni­taries came for­ward Mon­day to honor the Texan whose ef­forts for his coun­try ex­tended three quar­ters of a cen­tury from World War II through his fi­nal years as an ad­vo­cate for vol­un­teerism and re­lief for peo­ple dis­placed by nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. Pres­i­dent from 1989 to 1993, Bush died Fri­day at age 94. In an in­vo­ca­tion open­ing Mon­day evening’s cer­e­mony, the U.S. House chap­lain, the Rev. Patrick J Con­roy, praised Bush’s com­mit­ment to pub­lic ser­vice, from Navy pilot to con­gress­man, U.N. am­bas­sador, en­voy to China and then CIA di­rec­tor be­fore be­ing elected vice pres­i­dent and then pres­i­dent.

“Here lies a great man,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, and “a gen­tle soul . ... His legacy is grace per­fected.”

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Repub­li­can Se­nate leader Mitch McCon­nell also spoke. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump did not at­tend, but he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump came to the Capi­tol later Mon­day to pay tribute. They stood in front of the cas­ket with their eyes closed for a few mo­ments, be­fore Trump saluted the cas­ket.

Po­lit­i­cal com­bat­ants set aside their fights to honor a Repub­li­can who led in a less toxic era and at times found com­mon­al­ity with Democrats de­spite sharp pol­icy dis­agree­ments. Demo­cratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, past and in­com­ing House speaker, ex­changed a warm hug with Ge­orge W. Bush and came away dab­bing her face. Bush him­self seemed to be hold­ing back tears.

Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Se­nate Demo­cratic leader, placed wreaths in the short cer­e­mony be­fore the ro­tunda was opened to the pub­lic.

Sent off from Texas with a 21-gun salute, Bush’s cas­ket was car­ried to Joint Base An­drews out­side the cap­i­tal city aboard an air­craft that of­ten serves as Air Force One and des­ig­nated “Spe­cial Air Mis­sion 41” in honor of Bush’s place on the chrono­log­i­cal list of pres­i­dents. His el­dest son, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, and oth­ers from the fam­ily trav­eled on the flight from Hous­ton.

Can­non fire roared again out­side the Capi­tol as the sun sank and the younger Pres­i­dent Bush stood with his hand over his heart, watch­ing the cas­ket’s pro­ces­sion up the steps.

Bush was re­mem­bered just feet away from what he called “Democ­racy’s front porch,” the west-fac­ing steps of the Capi­tol where he was sworn in as pres­i­dent.

He will lie in state in the Capi­tol for pub­lic vis­i­ta­tion through Wed­nes­day. An in­vi­ta­tion-only fu­neral ser­vice, which the Trumps will at­tend, is set for Wed­nes­day at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

AP

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W Bush, with his wife for­mer first lady Laura, walks past the cas­ket of his father, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge HW Bush in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day.Photo:

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