Funerals over, train takes Bush casket to final resting place
At the same church where his wife of 73 years was eulogized just seven months ago, former President George H.W. Bush was remembered Thursday morning for his humility, decency and devotion to his family and his country.
Nearly 1,000 relatives, friends and dignitaries from the worlds of politics, sports, business and entertainment filled St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, as they had in April for the funeral for Barbara Bush, who was 92 when she died. The funeral Thursday for George H.W. Bush, who died last week at the age of 94, was one of the final events in what has become an extraordinary moment of national mourning for the 41st president.
Eight of his grandsons led the military pallbearers who carried Bush’s coffin into the church, and later his eldest grandson – George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner – spoke in a touching eulogy of his grandfather’s horseshoe games with the family and the Secret Service, and of how it had been “the honor of a lifetime to share his name.”
Bush’s friends and relatives described a man who walked softly through the postwar pages of American
HIS WISH FOR A KINDER, GENTLER NATION ...CAME ... FROM HIS SOUL. James Baker, Bush’s longtime friend
history, who was defined by service to others and who, one cold day in Houston, gave a young coatless usher at St. Martin’s the coat off his back.
“His wish for a kinder, gentler nation was not a cynical political slogan: It came honest and unguarded from his soul,” James Baker, Bush’s longtime friend of more than 60 years, said in a eulogy.
Baker – who also served as secretary of state and White House chief of staff in the Bush administration and ran both of his presidential campaigns – fought back tears at the end of his remarks, as he called Bush his role model and described their spirited debates, which usually ended amicably and humorously.
“But he had a very effective way of letting me know when the discussion was over,” Baker said. “He would look at me and he would say, ‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I the president and you’re not?’ ”
After the funeral, Bush’s coffin traveled by train to College Station, Texas, where the former president was to be buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University – next to Barbara Bush and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 when she was 3 years old.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump sat at the front of Washington National Cathedral with all four living former presidents at Bush’s state funeral, joined by thousands of foreign leaders, lawmakers, diplomats and other officials. In Houston, it was a much smaller tribute, in large part for the Bush family and their friends and supporters in Texas, at the church George and Barbara Bush had attended for more than 50 years. Trump did not attend, nor did any other former presidents except for Bush’s son, George W. Bush.
Amid the pageantry and prayers, and the anthems sung by St. Martin’s choir, there was a distinct country twang to the ceremony, an homage to the adopted state of the Connecticutraised former president. The Oak Ridge Boys, a country group that first sang for Bush in 1983 when he was vice president, sang “Amazing Grace” a cappella. Reba McEntire sang “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush watch as a joint services military honor guard carries the casket of former President George H.W. Bush to a Union Pacific train in Spring, Texas. The train was bound for a burial site at the presidential library in College Station, Texas.