Crowds honor Bush 41 for long ser­vice, from war to White House


WASH­ING­TON — Sol­diers, ci­ti­zens in wheel­chairs and long lines of oth­ers on foot wound through the hushed Capi­tol Ro­tunda on Tues­day to view Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s cas­ket and re­mem­ber a pres­i­dent whose legacy in­cluded World War mil­i­tary ser­vice and a land­mark law af­firm­ing the rights of the dis­abled. Bob Dole, a com­pa­triot in war, peace and po­lit­i­cal strug­gle, stead­ied him­self out of his wheel­chair and saluted his old friend and one­time ri­val.

As at no­table mo­ments in his life, Bush brought to­gether Repub­li­cans and Democrats in his death, and not only the VIPs.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic who never voted for the man waited in the same long lines as the rest, at­test­ing that Bush pos­sessed the dig­nity and grace that de­served to be re­mem­bered by their pres­ence on a cold over­cast day in the cap­i­tal.

“I’m just here to pay my re­spects,” said Jane Her­nan­dez, a re­tired physi­cian in the heav­ily Demo­cratic city and sub­urbs. “I wasn’t the big­gest fan of his pres­i­dency, but all in all he was a good sin­cere guy do­ing a re­ally hard job as best he could.”

Bush’s ser­vice dog, Sully, was brought to the view­ing, too — his main ser­vice these last months since Bar­bara Bush’s death in April be­ing to rest his head on her hus­band’s lap. Ser­vice dogs are trained to do that.

The CIA also hon­ored Bush, the only spy chief to be­come pres­i­dent, as three agency di­rec­tors past and present joined the pub­lic in the view­ing.

In the midst of the pe­riod of

mourn­ing, first lady Me­la­nia Trump gave Laura Bush, one of her pre­de­ces­sors, a tour of hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions at the White House, a “sweet visit dur­ing this somber week,” as Mrs. Bush’s In­sta­gram ac­count put it. And the Trumps vis­ited mem­bers of the Bush fam­ily at the Blair House pres­i­den­tial guest­house, where they are stay­ing. For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and his wife greeted the Trumps out­side be­fore ev­ery­one went in for the pri­vate, 20-minute visit.

The Bushes later made a sur­prise visit to the Capi­tol Ro­tunda, shak­ing hands with vis­i­tors and tourists lined up to honor the fam­ily pa­tri­arch.

Ge­orge W. and Laura Bush en­tered first, and the for­mer pres­i­dent put his hand on the flag-draped cas­ket hold­ing the re­mains of his fa­ther. Their twin daugh­ters, Jenna and Bar­bara, fol­lowed. Jeb Bush and his wife joined along with about a dozen other mem­bers of the Bush fam­ily. They min­gled for about 10 min­utes, at one point Ge­orge W. Bush held up a baby.

Although Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will at­tend Bush’s na­tional fu­neral ser­vice Wed­nes­day, he is not among the eu­lo­gists an­nounced by the Bush fam­ily, a list that in­cludes Ge­orge W. Bush. The oth­ers are Alan Simp­son, the for­mer sen­a­tor and acer­bic wit from Wyoming; Brian Mul­roney, the for­mer Cana­dian prime min­is­ter who also gave a eu­logy for Ron­ald Rea­gan; and pres­i­den­tial his­to­rian Jon Meacham.

Peo­ple lined up be­fore dawn to pay re­spects to the 41st pres­i­dent, a son and fa­ther of priv­i­lege now cel­e­brated by ev­ery­day ci­ti­zens for his com­mon cour­te­sies and depth of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“He was so qual­i­fied, and I think he was just a de­cent man,” said Sharon Terry, tour­ing Wash­ing­ton with friends from an In­di­anapo­lis gar­den club. Said her friend Sue Miller, also in line for the view­ing: “I ac­tu­ally think I un­der­es­ti­mated him when he was in of­fice. My opin­ion of him went up see­ing how he con­ducted him­self as a states­man af­ter­ward.”

Fred Curry, one of the few African-Amer­i­cans in line, is a reg­is­tered Demo­crat from Hy­attsville, Mary­land, who voted for Bush in 1988, the elec­tion won by the one-term pres­i­dent. “Hon­estly I just liked him,” he said. “He seemed like a sin­cere and de­cent man and you couldn’t ar­gue with his qual­i­fi­ca­tions.”

In­side the Capi­tol, Sully, the 2-year-old Labrador re­triever as­signed to Bush, sat by the cas­ket in the com­pany of peo­ple who came to com­mem­o­rate Bush’s sign­ing of the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act, the 1990 law that, among its many pro­vi­sions, re­quired busi­nesses that pro­hibit pets to give ac­cess to ser­vice dogs.

“Af­ter Mrs. Bush’s death, gen­eral com­pan­ion­ship was a big part of Sully’s job,” John Miller, pres­i­dent and CEO of Amer­ica’s VetDogs, said in a phone in­ter­view. “One of the things that I think was im­por­tant to the pres­i­dent was the rest com­mand, where Sully would rest his head on the pres­i­dent’s lap.”

The law was just one point of in­ter­sec­tion for Bush and Dole, now 95, who was one of its lead­ing ad­vo­cates in the Se­nate.

They were fel­low World War II vet­er­ans, Re­pub­li­can Party lead­ers, fierce ri­vals for the 1988 Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion won by Bush (“Stop ly­ing about my record,” Dole snapped at Bush) and skilled ne­go­tia­tors. Dole, an Army vet­eran hit by Ger­man ma­chine gun­fire in Italy, has gone through life with a dis­abled right arm. Bush, a Navy pilot, sur­vived a bail-out from his stricken air­craft over the Pa­cific and an ear­lier crash land­ing.

On Tues­day Dole was helped out of his wheel­chair by an aide, slowly stead­ied him­self and saluted Bush with his left hand, his chin quiv­er­ing.

Dig­ni­taries had come for­ward on Mon­day, too, to honor the Texan whose ser­vice to 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. Bush, 94, died Fri­day.

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.

Bush’s death re­duces mem­ber­ship in the ex­pres­i­dents’ club to four: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama.

LEFT: FOR­MER SEN. BOB DOLE salutes the flag-draped cas­ket of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day. RIGHT: Sully, Pres­i­dent Bush’s ser­vice dog, pays his re­spects Tues­day at the U.S. Capi­tol.


PRES­I­DENT DON­ALD TRUMP and first lady Me­la­nia Trump are greeted by for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush and for­mer first lady Laura Bush out­side the Blair House across the street from the White House in Wash­ing­ton Tues­day.

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