The nation’s capital bid its final farewell to former president George H.W. Bush on Wednesday in a service of prayer and praise. It drew together former presidents and political leaders.
A viewing for the 41st president at the Capitol Rotunda closed Wednesday morning. A ceremony at Washington National Cathedral ended three days of remembrance by dignitaries and citizens as they honored the Republican president. He oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose reelection to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.
President Trump and the four living ex-presidents attended the service. Among them, George W. Bush, who spoke about his father.
“Dad was always busy, a man in constant motion. But never too busy to share his love of life with those around him,” he said.
After the funeral, Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial Thursday in Texas. 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.
Trump’s relationship with the Bush family has been tense. The president mocked the elder Bush for his “thousand points of light” call to volunteerism and challenged his son’s legacy as president.
Those insults have been set aside, but the list of funeral speakers marked the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson’s death in 1973 that a sitting president was not tapped to eulogize a late president. (Clinton did so for Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush eulogized Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.)
Bush’s death reduces membership in the ex-presidents’ club to four: Jimmy Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.