The funeral of President George H.W. Bush

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Funeral service for the former U.S. President George H.W. Bush in Washington
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard from the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS

Coverage of the funeral of George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, from rotunda of the U.S. Capitol to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Politics as usual was put on hold, as Washington paused to mourn the passing of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday at the age of 94. Family, friends and colleagues gathered at Washington’s National Cathedral for the funeral.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

“George Herbert Walker Bush was America’s last great soldier statesman. A 20th century founding father. He governed with virtues that most closely resemble those of Washington and of Adams and of TR (Theodore Roosevelt) and of FDR ( Franklin D. Roosevelt) and of Truman and of Eisenhower. Of men who believed in causes much larger than themselves,” Bush Biographer Jon Meacham, who spoke at the funeral said.

He was remembered for his integrity and service and for forming close friendships with those he worked alongside.

“He never lost his sense of humor. Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life. That’s what humor is. He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in,” said Former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson.

All of the living U.S. presidents attended- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and George W Bush, his son, the 43rd President of the United States, who delivered an emotional eulogy to a loving father.

“We’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity and kind soul will stay with us forever. So through our tears let us know the blessing of knowing and loving you. A great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have (breaks down) and in our grief let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again,” George W. Bush said.

The state funeral of George HW Bush concludes back in his home state of Texas. After another church service the 41st president will be transported by train to his presidential library at Texas A & M University. He will be laid to rest there next to his wife Barbara, who died in April and their daughter Robin, who died of Leukemia when she was three years old.

More from the Associated Press

The nation’s capital is bidding its final farewell to former President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday in a service of prayer and praise that has drawn together world envoys, Americans of high office and many others who were touched by Bush’s life in office and afterward.

A military band played “Hail to the Chief” as the casket of the 41st president was carried down the U.S. Capitol steps in a solemn procession, with members of the Bush family watching and a cannon salute. His son, former President George W. Bush, placed his hand over his heart. Military pallbearers carried the casket up the steps to the cathedral.

The hearse had been driven in a motorcade to the Washington National Cathedral ceremony, slowing in front of the White House. Bush’s route was lined with people much of the way, bundled in winter hats and taking photos.

A military color guard stood at attention as the hearse arrived.

Wednesday’s ceremonies capped three days of remembrance in the nation’s capital by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honored the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War world transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

The four living ex-presidents all came — among them, George W. Bush who will eulogize his father — and President Donald Trump will attend but is not scheduled to speak. Also attending: one king (Jordan), one queen (Jordan), two princes (Britain, Bahrain), Germany’s chancellor and Poland’s president, among representatives of more than a dozen countries.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was “looking forward to being with the Bush family,” calling the day “a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.” Trump and his wife took their seats after the others, briefly greeting the Obamas seated next to them.

Also expected in the invitation-only crowd: Mike Lovejoy, a Kennebunkport electrician and fix-it man who has worked at Bush’s Maine summer estate since 1990 and says he was shocked and heartened to be asked to come.

On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the Capitol Rotunda to view Bush’s casket and honor a president whose legacy included World War military service and a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled. Former Sen. Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and one-time rival.

After the national funeral service at the cathedral, Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. 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 ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.

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 taken 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.

Although Trump will attend Bush’s service, he is not among the eulogists. They are, in addition to Bush’s eldest son, 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.

Michael Johns, a former White House speech writer, talks about H.W. Bush’s legacy

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Michael Johns, a former White House speech writer, about the legacy of George HW Bush.