MOURNERS GATHER FOR BUSH FUNERAL TRAIN
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush passes through Magnolia, Texas, on Thursday along the route from Spring to College Station, Texas. Bush was buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, next to Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, who died in April.
In 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. The funeral Thursday for Bush, who died last week at the age of 94, was one of the final events in the 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 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 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.
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.
The Houston ceremony was a much smaller tribute than the state funeral the day before, in large part for the Bush family and their friends and supporters in Texas.
Bush, a World War II aviator from the East Coast, came to Texas in the summer of 1948 to make a name for himself in the oil business. Seventy years after that trip, Bush’s funeral train took him on one last journey through the state. Members of the Bush family were on board. The train ride from Bush’s Houston funeral to his College Station burial had been his idea, organizers said.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m., the funeral train glided onto the Texas A&M campus, where several hundred spectators who had waited in the rain for hours cheered.
As the university band played “Hail to the Chief” and the “Aggie War Hymn,” the coffin was placed into a waiting hearse.
The Bush family and others then joined the motorcade to the presidential library. From there, the coffin was carried to the family plot, where the former president was laid to rest in a private burial.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, second from left, with his wife, Columba, left, and former President George W. Bush, center, with wife Laura and other family members watch as the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a military honor guard after it arrived by train for burial at the George Bush Presidential Library.