The nation’s capital bids its final farewell to the late president, George H.W. Bush, in a service of prayer and praise that is drawing together world envoys, Americans of high office and a guy from Maine who used to fix things in Bush’s house on the water.
The ceremony Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral, the nexus of state funerals, will cap three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honored the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War 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 are coming — among them, George W. Bush 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.
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.
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has saluted President George H.W. Bush at the casket of the late president. Like Bush, Dole is a World War II veteran. (Dec. 4)
On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the hushed 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.