Train takes Bush’s cas­ket to fi­nal Texas rest­ing place

The Olympian - - Front Page - BY MANNY FER­NAN­DEZ

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 pol­i­tics, sports, busi­ness and en­ter­tain­ment filled St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church, as they had dur­ing April for the fu­neral for Bar­bara Bush, who was 92 when she died. The fu­neral Thurs­day for Ge­orge 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 U.S. his­tory, who was de­fined by ser­vice to oth­ers and who, one cold day in Hous­ton, gave a young 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, a 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 dur­ing 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 dur­ing 1953 when she was 3 years old.

On Wed­nes­day, at the Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral for Bush’s state fu­neral, thou­sands at­tended. 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 who first sang for Bush in 1983 when he was vice pres­i­dent, sang “Amaz­ing Grace” a cap­pella. Reba McEn­tire sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” There were ac­tors (Chuck Nor­ris), base­ball Hall of Famers (Nolan Ryan) and busi­ness lead­ers

‘‘ HIS WISH FOR A KINDER, GEN­TLER NA­TION WAS NOT A CYN­I­CAL PO­LIT­I­CAL SLO­GAN: IT CAME HON­EST AND UN­GUARDED FROM HIS SOUL. James Baker, for­mer sec­re­tary of state and White House chief of staff, on Ge­orge H.W. Bush

(Til­man Fer­titta). There were cur­rent and re­tired foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and base­ball stars, in­clud­ing J.J. Watt of the Hous­ton Tex­ans, Jeff Bag­well of the Hous­ton Astros and Dikembe Mu­tombo and Yao Ming of the Hous­ton Rock­ets.

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, driv­ing to the West Texas town of Odessa in a two-door Stude­baker. Seventy years after that trip, Bush’s fu­neral train took him on one last jour­ney through the state, this time in a Union Pa­cific lo­co­mo­tive. The train, named Union Pa­cific 4141, trav­eled 70 miles through Mag­no­lia, Nava­sota and other small towns, led by a 4,300horse­power lo­co­mo­tive painted blue, gray and white to echo the col­ors of Air Force One. Mem­bers of the Bush fam­ily were on board.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m., the fu­neral train – the Union Pa­cific lo­co­mo­tive and sev­eral rail cars be­hind it – glided onto the Texas A&M cam­pus, where sev­eral hun­dred spec­ta­tors who had waited in the rain for hours cheered. Floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows in one of the rail cars al­lowed peo­ple on both sides to view the cof­fin in­side.

As the univer­sity band played “Hail to the Chief” and the “Ag­gie War Hymn” – a spe­cial re­quest by Bush, a de­voted fan of all things Ag­gie, as A&M’s stu­dents and sports teams are known – the cof­fin was low­ered from the train by an honor guard of pall­bear­ers, car­ried past Bush fam­ily mem­bers and placed into a wait­ing hearse.

The Bush fam­ily and oth­ers then joined the mo­tor­cade that trav­eled slowly along Ge­orge Bush Drive, turned off on Bar­bara Bush Drive and fi­nally ar­rived at 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.

MICHAEL WYKE AP

Fire­fight­ers on an over­pass stand on their truck and salute as the train car­ry­ing the body of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush trav­els through Texas on its way to Bush’s burial Thurs­day.

DAVID J. PHILLIP AP

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.

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