Bush laid to rest at pres­i­den­tial li­brary

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OBITUARIES / NEWS - Hous­ton Chron­i­cle staff writer Al­lie Mor­ris and the As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.

More than 2,000 stu­dents in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets stood at at­ten­tion along the road as Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s cas­ket was driven to his pres­i­den­tial li­brary and fi­nal rest­ing place in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

Bush was buried on the grounds Thurs­day, be­side wife, Bar­bara Bush, and daugh­ter Robin, who died at age 3 from leukemia.

The ser­vice was pri­vate. But over­head, be­neath an over­cast sky and in the driz­zling rain, the Navy per­formed an un­prece­dented “miss­ing man” for­ma­tion with 21 air­craft. The jets flew in groups of four and in the fi­nal passover a sin­gle air­craft peeled off from the rest, sig­ni­fy­ing the loss of an avi­a­tor.

Af­ter­ward, the sounds of a 21-gun salute re­ver­ber­ated across the grounds.

Bush chose Texas A&M in 1991 to host his pres­i­den­tial li­brary and a grad­u­ate school of gov­ern­ment and pub­lic ser­vice. A Navy pi­lot, Bush’s plane was shot down over the Pa­cific in World War II. He was res­cued and went on to have a 40-year ca­reer in pub­lic ser­vice.

Ear­lier Thurs­day, thou­sands waved and cheered along the route as fu­neral train No. 4141 — for the 41st pres­i­dent — car­ried Bush’s re­mains to their fi­nal rest­ing place, his last jour­ney as a week of na­tional re­mem­brance took on a de­cid­edly per­sonal feel in an emo­tional home state farewell.

Some peo­ple laid coins along the tracks that wound through small town Texas so a 420,000pound lo­co­mo­tive pulling the na­tion’s first fu­neral train in nearly half a cen­tury could crunch them into sou­venirs. Oth­ers snapped pic­tures or crowded for views so close that po­lice he­li­copters over­head had to warn them back. El­e­men­tary stu­dents hoisted a ban­ner sim­ply read­ing “THANK YOU.”

The scenes rem­i­nis­cent of a by­gone era fol­lowed a se­ri­ous and more somber tone at an ear­lier fu­neral ser­vice at a Hous­ton church, where Bush’s for­mer sec­re­tary of state and con­fi­dant for decades, James Baker, ad­dressed him as “jefe,” Span­ish for “boss.” At times chok­ing back tears, Baker praised Bush as “a beau­ti­ful hu­man be­ing” who had “the courage of a war­rior. But when the time came for pru­dence, he main­tained the greater courage of a peace­maker.”

Baker also pro­vided a con­trast with to­day’s di­vi­sive po­lit­i­cal rhetoric, say­ing Bush’s “wish for a kinder, gen­tler na­tion was not a cyn­i­cal po­lit­i­cal slo­gan. It came hon­est and un­guarded from his soul.”

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

As the post-fu­neral mo­tor­cade car­ry­ing Bush’s re­mains later sped down a closed high­way from the church to the train sta­tion, con­struc­tion work­ers on all lev­els of an un­fin­ished build­ing paused to watch. A man sit­ting on a fer­ris wheel near the aquar­ium waved.

Bush’s body was later loaded onto a spe­cial train fit­ted with clear sides so peo­ple could catch a glimpse of the cas­ket as it rum­bled by. The train trav­eled about 70 miles in two-plus hours — the first pres­i­den­tial fu­neral train jour­ney since Dwight D. Eisen­hower’s re­mains went from Wash­ing­ton to his na­tive Kansas 49 years ago — to the fam­ily plot on the grounds of Bush’s pres­i­den­tial li­brary at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity.

In the town of Cy­press, 55-year-old Doug Allen left eight coins on the tracks be­fore the train passed — three quar­ters, three dimes and two pen­nies. The train left the coins flat­tened and slightly dis­col­ored.

“It’s some­thing we’ll al­ways keep,” Allen said.

Andy Gor­don, 38, took his 6-year-old daugh­ter, Ad­di­son, out of school so she and her 3-year-old sis­ter, Ashtyn, could see the train pass in Pine­hurst, Texas.

“Hope­fully, my chil­dren will re­mem­ber the sig­nif­i­cance and the mean­ing of to­day,” Gor­don said. Ad­di­son was car­ry­ing two small Amer­i­can flags in her hand.

Ger­ald Her­bert / As­so­ci­ated Press

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, leave St. Mar­tin's Epis­co­pal Church in Hous­ton af­ter the fu­neral ser­vice for his fa­ther, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, on Thurs­day.

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