At Capi­tol, Bush saluted as ‘gen­tle soul’ and a ‘great man’

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — The na­tion’s cap­i­tal em­braced Ge­orge H.W. Bush in death Mon­day with solemn cer­e­mony and high tributes to his ser­vice and de­cency, as the re­mains of the 41st pres­i­dent took their place in the Capi­tol ro­tunda for three days of mourn­ing and praise by the po­lit­i­cal elite and ev­ery­day ci­ti­zens alike.

With Bush’s cas­ket atop the Lin­coln Catafalque, first used for Abra­ham Lin­coln’s 1865 fu­neral, dig­ni­taries came for­ward to honor the Texan whose ef­forts for his coun­try ex­tended three quar­ters of a cen­tury from World War II through his fi­nal years as an ad­vo­cate for vol­un­teerism and re­lief for peo­ple dis­placed by nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

Pres­i­dent from 1989 to 1993, Bush died Fri­day at age 94.

In an in­vo­ca­tion open-

ing Mon­day evening’s cer­e­mony, the U.S. House chap­lain, the Rev. Patrick J Con­roy, praised Bush’s com­mit­ment to pub­lic ser­vice, from Navy pi­lot to con­gress­man, U.N. am­bas­sador, en­voy to China and then CIA di­rec­tor be­fore be­ing elected vice pres­i­dent and then pres­i­dent.

“Here lies a great man,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, and “a gen­tle soul . ... His legacy is grace per­fected.”

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Repub­li­can Se­nate leader Mitch McCon­nell also spoke. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump did not at­tend, but he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump came to the Capi­tol later Mon­day to pay trib­ute. They stood in front of the cas­ket with their eyes closed for a few mo­ments, be­fore Trump saluted the cas­ket.

Po­lit­i­cal com­bat­ants set aside their fights to honor a Repub­li­can who led in a less toxic era and at times found com­mon­al­ity with Democrats de­spite sharp pol­icy dis­agree­ments. Demo­cratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, past and in­com­ing House speaker, ex­changed a warm hug with Ge­orge W. Bush and came away dab­bing her face. Bush him­self seemed to be hold­ing back tears.

Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Se­nate Demo­cratic leader, placed wreaths in the short cer­e­mony be­fore the ro­tunda was to be opened to the pub­lic. It was to re­main open overnight.

Sent off from Texas with a 21-gun salute, Bush’s cas­ket was car­ried to Joint Base An­drews out­side the cap­i­tal city aboard an air­craft that of­ten serves as Air Force One and des­ig­nated “Spe­cial Air Mis­sion 41” in honor of Bush’s place on the chrono­log­i­cal list of pres­i­dents.

Can­non roared again out­side the Capi­tol as the sun sank and his el­dest son, former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, stood with his hand over his heart, watch­ing the cas­ket’s pro­ces­sion up the steps.

Bush was re­mem­bered just feet away from what he called “Democ­racy’s front porch,” the west-fac­ing steps of the Capi­tol where he was sworn in as pres­i­dent.

He will lie in state in the Capi­tol for pub­lic vis­i­ta­tion through Wed­nes­day. An in­vi­ta­tion-only fu­neral ser­vice, which the Trumps will at­tend, is set for Wed­nes­day at Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral.

Although Bush’s fu­neral ser­vices are suf­fused with the flour­ishes ac­corded pres­i­dents, by his choice they will not in­clude a for­mal fu­neral pro­ces­sion through down­town Wash­ing­ton.

The younger Pres­i­dent Bush, his wife, Laura, and oth­ers from the fam­ily trav­eled on the flight from Houston.

On Sun­day, stu­dents, staff and vis­i­tors had flocked to Bush’s pres­i­den­tial li­brary on the cam­pus of Texas A&M Univer­sity, with thou­sands of mourn­ers pay­ing their re­spects at a week­end can­dle­light vigil at a nearby pond and oth­ers contributing to grow­ing flower memo­ri­als at Bush stat­ues at both the li­brary and a park in down­town Houston.

“I think he was one of the kind­est, most gen­er­ous men,” said Marge Fra­zier, who vis­ited the down­town statue on Sun­day while show­ing friends from Cal­i­for­nia around.

Af­ter ser­vices in Wash­ing­ton, Bush will be re­turned to Houston to lie in re­pose at St. Martin’s Epis­co­pal Church be­fore burial Thurs­day at his fam­ily plot on the li­brary grounds. His fi­nal rest­ing place will be along­side Bar­bara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daugh­ter they lost to leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

Trump has or­dered the fed­eral gov­ern­ment closed Wed­nes­day for a na­tional day of mourn­ing. Flags on pub­lic build­ings are fly­ing at half-staff for 30 days out of re­spect for Bush.

Trump, who has not al­ways ut­tered kind words about the Bush fam­ily, of­fered noth­ing but praise in the hours af­ter the former pres­i­dent’s death was an­nounced.

“He was just a high-qual­ity man who truly loved his fam­ily,” Trump said Satur­day while in Ar­gentina. “One thing that came through loud and clear, he was very proud of his fam­ily and very much loved his fam­ily. So he was a ter­rific guy and he’ll be missed.”

Bush’s passing puts him back in the Wash­ing­ton spot­light af­ter more than two decades liv­ing the rel­a­tively low-key life of a former pres­i­dent. His death also re­duces mem­ber­ship in the ex-pres­i­dents’ club to four: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama.


FORMER PRES­I­DENT GE­ORGE W. BUSH, with his wife, former first lady Laura, walks past the cas­ket of his fa­ther, former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, at the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day.


THE FLAG-DRAPED CAS­KET of former Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush lies in state in the Capi­tol Ro­tunda in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day.

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