‘A GREAT AND NOBLE MAN’

Ge­orge H.W. Bush hon­ored one last time in Wash­ing­ton

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

A mil­i­tary band played “Hail to the Chief,” can­nons sang out a 21-gun salute and the pres­i­den­tial jet took to the sky, lift­ing former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush away from Wash­ing­ton one last time.

The cap­i­tal gave a solemn but fer­vent farewell Wed­nes­day to the 41st pres­i­dent, whose death Fri­day at 94 launched a week of com­mem­o­ra­tions for a man ac­claimed as one of the most de­cent to hold the White House, and at a par­tic­u­larly con­se­quen­tial time for the na­tion’s his­tory.

“He stood in the breach in the Cold War against to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism. He stood in the breach in Wash­ing­ton against un­think­ing par­ti­san­ship. He stood in the breach against tyranny and dis­crim­i­na­tion. And on his watch, a wall fell in Berlin, a dic­ta­tor’s ag­gres­sion did not stand and doors across Amer­ica opened to those with dis­abil­i­ties,” Jon Meacham, a Bush bi­og­ra­pher, eu­lo­gized at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

The ser­vice was the cap­stone to three days of mourn­ing in Wash­ing­ton for Mr. Bush, giv­ing thou­sands of res­i­dents and tourists a chance to stream by his cas­ket as it lay in state in the Capi­tol Ro­tunda.

Still more lined the streets Wed­nes­day to watch the Cadil­lac hearse with pres­i­den­tial seals carry the late pres­i­dent

through the city, go­ing down Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue be­tween the White House and Lafayette Park one last time.

That stretch is now closed to every­one but pres­i­den­tial traf­fic, though it was very much open dur­ing Mr. Bush’s pres­i­dency, a sym­bol of how open Wash­ing­ton used to be.

It took an act of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism sev­eral years after Mr. Bush left of­fice — the 1995 Ok­la­homa City bomb­ing — to shut down the street, an early har­bin­ger of what would be­come the ter­ror­ism hard­ened streets and build­ings of the 21st cen­tury.

Mr. Meacham said Mr. Bush was a bridge be­tween the Cold War era and those years, call­ing him “a 21st cen­tury found­ing fa­ther.”

“An im­per­fect man, he left us a more per­fect union,” the bi­og­ra­pher told the Bush fam­ily, Pres­i­dent Trump and all the other liv­ing men who have oc­cu­pied the White House, and hun­dreds of dig­ni­taries who came to pay re­spect.

Former Sen. Alan Simp­son said the late pres­i­dent’s epi­taph should be the sin­gle let­ter “L” for loy­alty to his coun­try, his fam­ily, the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment and his friends.

“One of na­ture’s noble men,” Mr. Simp­son said.

De­spite the in­her­ent solem­nity of the day, the late pres­i­dent’s hu­mor shone through.

Ge­orge W. Bush, his son and the 43rd pres­i­dent, said his fa­ther was part of an on­go­ing email chain of jokes with friends and had a grad­ing sys­tem for them: “The rare sevens and eights were con­sid­ered huge win­ners, most of them off-color.”

The younger Mr. Bush re­called his fa­ther’s zeal for each day — “He was born with just two set­tings: Full throt­tle, then sleep” — and his large heart for those around him.

“To us, his was the bright­est of a thou­sand points of light,” the son said.

The Bush fam­ily has been front and cen­ter this week, cap­tur­ing some of the spot­light the fam­ily oc­cu­pied for the bet­ter part of the past four decades.

They sat in the front pews on one side of the cathe­dral, while Mr. Trump and former Pres­i­dents Barack Obama, Bill Clin­ton, Jimmy Carter and their wives sat in the op­po­site pews — an ex­tra­or­di­nary lineup of peo­ple who have vi­ciously bat­tled over the past few years.

When Mr. Trump ar­rived, he greeted Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, with hand­shakes but did not pro­ceed down the line to the Clin­tons or Carters.

He didn’t have a speak­ing role and kept a low pro­file for the day, leav­ing the fo­cus on the Bush fam­ily.

“This is not a fu­neral, this is a day of cel­e­bra­tion for a great man who has led a long and dis­tin­guished life. He will be missed!” Mr. Trump posted on Twit­ter.

The pres­i­dent de­clared Wed­nes­day a day of mourn­ing and gave fed­eral em­ploy­ees a hol­i­day.

Some of them were among the well­wish­ers who lined the streets to see No. 41 on his last mo­tor­cade to Joint Base An­drews, the pres­i­den­tial air­port that was so fa­mil­iar to Mr. Bush dur­ing his 12 years as vice pres­i­dent and then as pres­i­dent.

In Texas, the pres­i­den­tial air­craft, dubbed Spe­cial Air Mis­sion 41, did a flyby of the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary in Col­lege Sta­tion.

A fu­neral will be held Thurs­day, and Mr. Bush will be buried at the li­brary next to Bar­bara Bush, his wife of 73 years, who passed away ear­lier this year.

Ge­orge W. Bush said his fa­ther is now hold­ing his wife’s hand again, and also hug­ging their daugh­ter, Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

The son said his fa­ther prayed ev­ery day for Robin.

Mr. Meacham, in his eu­logy, re­called an ex­pe­ri­ence Mr. Bush had as vice pres­i­dent, vis­it­ing a can­cer ward in Krakow, Poland, where a small boy also suf­fer­ing from leukemia wanted to greet him.

Mr. Meacham re­counted what Mr. Bush wrote in his di­ary that night: “My eyes flooded with tears. And be­hind me was a bank of tele­vi­sion cam­eras. And I thought, ‘I can’t turn around. I can’t dis­solve be­cause of per­sonal tragedy, in the face of the nurses that give of them­selves ev­ery day.’

“So I stood there, look­ing at this lit­tle guy, tears run­ning down my cheek, hop­ing he wouldn’t see. But if he did, hop­ing he’d feel that I loved him.”

“That was the real Ge­orge H.W. Bush,” Mr. Meacham said. “A lov­ing man with a big, vi­brant, all-en­velop­ing heart.”

Wil­lie Geist, a news an­chor for MSNBC, said Mr. Meacham told him he read the eu­logy to Mr. Bush be­fore he died.

Mr. Geist re­ported: “After hear­ing his own eu­logy, Pres­i­dent Bush said, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally: ‘That’s a lot about me, Jon.’”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

FAREWELL: Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s flag-draped cas­ket was car­ried out of the Na­tional Cathe­dral at the con­clu­sion of his state fu­neral. His body was taken to Joint Base An­drews and put on the pres­i­den­tial air­craft to be re­turned to Texas for burial.

PROM­I­NENT: Seated in the front pews across from the Bush fam­ily were Pres­i­dent Trump, first lady Me­la­nia Trump, former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, former first lady Hil­lary Clin­ton, former Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter and former first lady Ros­alynn Carter.

HOME: A mil­i­tary honor guard car­ried the cas­ket from the plane dubbed Spe­cial Air Mis­sion 41, which did a flyby of the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary be­fore land­ing in Texas.

EMO­TIONAL: Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush placed his hand on the flag-draped cas­ket of his fa­ther, former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, after de­liv­er­ing a eu­logy Wed­nes­day.

GRAND­DAUGH­TER: Jenna Bush Hager paid re­spects to her grand­fa­ther at the Na­tional Cathe­dral. Mr. Bush was re­mem­bered by fam­ily for his love and sense of hu­mor.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Crowds lined Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue to get a glimpse of the mo­tor­cade dur­ing its pro­ces­sion from the Capi­tol to the Na­tional Cathe­dral on Wed­nes­day.

Former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, with former first lady Laura Bush, along with former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, led mourn­ers out of the Na­tional Cathe­dral after the state fu­neral. The Bushes’ mother, Bar­bara, died ear­lier this year.

After fam­ily, friends, dig­ni­taries and mem­bers of the pub­lic paid their re­spects to former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush as he lay in state in the Capi­tol, a joint ser­vices mil­i­tary honor guard car­ried his flag-draped cas­ket to a hearse bear­ing pres­i­den­tial seals.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic lined the streets to pay their re­spects as the hearse passed by on the way to Joint Base An­drews.

The hearse car­ry­ing the cas­ket of the former pres­i­dent passed by the White House on its pro­ces­sion to the Na­tional Cathe­dral.

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