‘A first-class trib­ute’

The cap­i­tal city pre­pares for the pageantry of a state fu­neral.

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY ARELIS R. HERNÁN­DEZ arelis.her­nan­[email protected]­post.com

The cas­ket bear­ing the late pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush will ar­rive at the U.S. Capi­tol Mon­day evening and will be on pub­lic dis­play as the 41st pres­i­dent lies in state in the Ro­tunda un­til Wed­nes­day morn­ing, con­gres­sional lead­ers said.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Trump de­clared Wed­nes­day a na­tional day of mourn­ing and or­dered flags on all pub­lic build­ings to be low­ered to half-staff for the next 30 days. Ex­ec­u­tive de­part­ments and fed­eral agen­cies will be closed Wed­nes­day “as a mark of re­spect” for Bush, ac­cord­ing to an ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

Un­der plans re­leased Satur­day night, the cas­ket is to ar­rive at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral at 11 a.m. Wed­nes­day for a fu­neral ser­vice. De­par­ture from the cathe­dral is to be at 12:30 p.m.

The an­nounce­ments came as plans for the pageantry of a state fu­neral were set in mo­tion Satur­day, with the cap­i­tal city and na­tion prepar­ing to honor Bush through events in Texas and Wash­ing­ton. He died late Fri­day.

Since 1969, a joint task force of nearly 4,000 mil­i­tary and civil­ian per­son­nel in the cap­i­tal re­gion has co­or­di­nated the ap­pa­ra­tus in­volved in sev­eral days of care­fully ob­served tra­di­tions, pro­to­cols and cer­e­monies for the pub­lic memo­rial to an Amer­i­can head of state.

“We, the men and women of the Depart­ment of De­fense, are hon­ored and proud to sup­port the Bush fam­ily and will do so with the ut­most re­spect,” Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard of the Joint Force Head­quar­ters Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion said in a state­ment.

“This state fu­neral is a cul­mi­na­tion of years of plan­ning and re­hearsal to en­sure the sup­port the mil­i­tary ren­ders Pres­i­dent Bush is noth­ing less than a first-class trib­ute.”

The last state fu­neral oc­curred 11 years ago, when Ger­ald R. Ford, the 38th pres­i­dent, lay in state at the Capi­tol in 2007.

Mem­bers of Con­gress will pay their re­spects in a bi­cam­eral ar­rival cer­e­mony start­ing at 5 p.m. on Mon­day. Then the gen­eral pub­lic will be al­lowed to do the same be­gin­ning at 7:30 p.m., of­fi­cials said. Pub­lic view­ing will end at 7 a.m. Wed­nes­day, Capi­tol Po­lice said.

A spokesman for the Bush fam­ily, Jim McGrath, said on Twit­ter that fu­neral in­for­ma­tion would be posted on george­hw­bush.com.

Though many de­tails were not yet an­nounced as of Satur­day evening, the late pres­i­dent’s fi­nal jour­ney is tak­ing shape to fol­low a highly chore­ographed pat­tern that has taken years to per­fect.

Plan­ning for a state fu­neral be­gins the day a pres­i­dent is in­au­gu­rated, said re­tired Lt. Gen. Guy C. Swan, who com­manded the U.S. Army mil­i­tary dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton and over­saw Ford’s memo­rial.

The bulk of the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion is planned long in ad­vance and re­hearsed sev­eral times a year in co­or­di­na­tion with Wash­ing­ton’s fed­eral and lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies. It typ­i­cally takes place in three phases.

“It is a mul­ti­a­gency ef­fort that in­volves the Se­cret Ser­vice, D.C. po­lice, U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice, lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments in Texas and lots of Na­tional Guard,” Swan said. “You name any law en­force­ment agency and they will have some role in this, pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity or trans­porta­tion or es­cort­ing VIPS.”

When Ford died the day af­ter Christ­mas in 2006, Swan said he boarded a mil­i­tary plane within hours to the for­mer pres­i­dent’s Cal­i­for­nia home while his deputy was set­ting things in mo­tion at a Wash­ing­ton com­mand cen­ter. Swan said Bush’s cer­e­mony will prob­a­bly be­gin at the 41st pres­i­dent’s home in Houston with pri­vate re­mem­brances or prayers. Bush’s chil­dren have gath­ered there — in­clud­ing the 43rd pres­i­dent, Ge­orge W. Bush, and for­mer Florida gov­er­nor Jeb Bush.

From there, the late pres­i­dent’s body is ex­pected to be flown on Air Force One along with fam­ily and staff on Mon­day to Joint Base An­drews. Then the sec­ond phase be­gins. The pub­lic and gov­ern­ment will be able to honor Bush at the Ro­tunda and the cathe­dral.

By tra­di­tion, pres­i­den­tial fam­i­lies have been able to per­son­al­ize the event, choos­ing the se­quence and lo­ca­tion of ob­ser­vances, which can in­clude a mil­i­tary pa­rade or hav­ing a horse-drawn cais­son to trans­port the cas­ket. Ev­ery de­tail the fam­ily chooses, in­clud­ing the ser­vice speak­ers and the mo­tor­cade route, tells about the in­di­vid­ual be­ing remembered.

“A lot of for­mer pres­i­dents keep the plans pretty mod­est be­cause they know they are not the sit­ting head of state,” said Matthew Costello, se­nior his­to­rian at the White House His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion. “They add th­ese per­sonal touches to show who they were as peo­ple and how they want to be remembered.”

For­mer pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son’s cas­ket was brought into the Ro­tunda through the Se­nate en­trance be­cause he was an im­por­tant Se­nate fig­ure dur­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, Costello said. Typ­i­cally, a late pres­i­dent’s re­mains en­ter the Capi­tol from the east, but for­mer pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan wished to en­ter from the west.

“It’s spec­u­lated that he wanted to face and see Cal­i­for­nia on his way in,” Costello said.

Ford’s body lay in state in the cham­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives be­fore mov­ing to the Ro­tunda, to sym­bol­ize his House ser­vice. As his cas­ket was rolled out, the doors of the Se­nate were opened for Ford “to say good­bye” to the cham­ber over which he once presided as the na­tion’s vice pres­i­dent, Swan said.

The Ford fam­ily ar­ranged for his mo­tor­cade to drive by the World War II Memo­rial on the way out of Wash­ing­ton in honor of his ser­vice in that con­flict.

The third and fi­nal phase will take the late pres­i­dent to his fi­nal rest­ing place. The tra­di­tion of bury­ing a pres­i­dent’s re­mains at pres­i­den­tial li­braries be­gan with Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, Costello said.

Bush’s wife of 73 years, Bar­bara Bush, and their daugh­ter, Pauline Robin­son “Robin” Bush, who died of leukemia at age 3, were both laid to rest at the Bush pres­i­den­tial li­brary at Col­lege Sta­tion on the campus of Texas A&M Univer­sity.

“What the fam­i­lies want to do is use this very solemn oc­ca­sion as a way to al­low the na­tion to re­mem­ber their” loved one, Swan said. “Each one of th­ese is dif­fer­ent.”


Peo­ple look at a por­trait of Ge­orge H.W. Bush at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery on Satur­day, a day af­ter the 41st pres­i­dent’s death. Pres­i­dent Trump de­clared Wed­nes­day a na­tional day of mourn­ing as plans were set in mo­tion for a state fu­neral that day.

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