Pres­i­den­tial farewell for Bush

Son Ge­orge W. Bush, oth­ers eu­lo­gize 41st U.S. chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Calvin Wood­ward, Lau­rie Kellman and Ashraf Khalil

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump at­tend Wed­nes­day’s state fu­neral for former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral in a pew with three ex-pres­i­dents and ex-first ladies: Barack and Michelle Obama; Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton; and Jimmy and Ros­alyn Carter.

— Mourn­ers WASH­ING­TON from across the na­tion gath­ered Wed­nes­day morn­ing to pay their re­spects and cel­e­brate the life of former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at a state fu­neral at the Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

As Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and three former pres­i­dents lis­tened, a fourth — Ge­orge W. Bush — eu­lo­gized his dad, who died Fri­day at the age of 94.

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

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.”

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, Trump and former Pres­i­dents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clin­ton stood with their spouses, and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Bush’s death makes Carter, also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the old­est liv­ing ex-pres­i­dent.

For all the somber 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.

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

Former Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney praised Bush as a strong world leader who helped over­see the end of the Cold War and the col­lapse of the Soviet Union and helped bring about the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment with Canada and Mex­ico, signed into law by Clin­ton, his suc­ces­sor.

With Trump, a strong critic of the trade deal, seated in the front row, Mul­roney hailed the “largest and rich­est free trade area in the his­tory of the world.” The three coun­tries have agreed on a re­vised trade agree­ment pushed by Trump.

Alan Simp­son, 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 hu­mor back on the acer­bic ex-sen­a­tor, say­ing of the late pres­i­dent: “He placed great value on a good joke, so he chose Simp­son to speak.”

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.

Trump tweeted Wed­nes­day that the day marked “a cel­e­bra­tion for a great man who has led a long and dis­tin­guished life.” Trump and his wife, Me­la­nia, took their seats after the oth­ers at Wed­nes­day’s fu­neral, briefly greet­ing the Oba­mas seated next to them.

After three days of events in Wash­ing­ton, Bush’s body was headed home to Texas for more cer­e­mony and then burial to­day. 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 World War II Navy pi­lot, then ar­rived at Joint Base An­drews.

Can­non roared again, “Hail to the Chief ” was played for Bush a fi­nal time in the cap­i­tal, and the plane with his cas­ket and Bush fam­ily mem­bers aboard took off for Hous­ton.

CHRIS KLEPONIS / GETTY IM­AGES

ALEX BRAN­DON / GETTY IM­AGES

Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush views his fa­ther’s cas­ket after the el­der Bush’s state fu­neral Wed­nes­day at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

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