The emotional state funeral of former president George H.W. Bush on Wednesday was marked by tributes, laughter and celebrations of the 41st president.
There were a few moments that stood out.
1. George W. Bush’s eulogy
“The best father a son or daughter could have,” Bush said. “And in our grief, let us smile, knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
2. The tribute to Bush’s military service
The passing of former president Bush, the last U.S. president to serve in combat, follows a decades-long trend of declining numbers of veterans serving as president and in Congress, something presidential historian Jon Meacham noted on Wednesday.
“George Herbert Walker Bush was American’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th century Founding Father,” Meacham said.
3. The subtle calls for bipartisanship and civility
The state funeral of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was notable in part for the overt rebukes of President Trump, with calls for bipartisanship and civility. With Trump in attendance Wednesday, those calls for bipartisanship and civility continued, albeit subdued.
“His life code, as he said, was: Tell the truth, don’t blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course,” Meacham said. “And that was and is the most American of creeds.”
The younger former president Bush said: “In victory, he shared credit. When he lost, he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is a part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure.”
Former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) said: “He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”
4. Simpson goes over his allotted time (barely)
The former senator opened on a lighter note Wednesday, after telling The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty he had cried while writing Bush’s eulogy.
“Relax, George told me I only had 10 minutes,” Simpson said. “He was very direct about it; it wasn’t even funny.”
Simpson barely missed the mark: His eulogy ran just over 11 minutes.
5. George W. Bush, Michelle Obama and the mints, part II
“He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the ‘formers’ gather,” Obama told NBC News in October.
Apparently the Bush-Obama candy relationship is still going strong: He handed her a mint or candy on Wednesday.
6. President Trump’s entrance
Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral, in part because of their difficult relationship. So it was notable when Trump, who only months prior had mocked Bush’s “thousand points of light” volunteer effort, was invited by the Bushes to Wednesday’s ceremony. Trump has reciprocated this week, paying respects to Bush on Twitter, in person at the Capitol and through other gestures.
But also notable was the response Trump received from those seated in his row: After Trump shook the hands of both Obamas, neither the Clintons nor the Carters appeared to make eye contact with the president (first lady Melania Trump got a nod from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton).