Former President George W. Bush gets emotional in eulogy of his father
WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush recalled his father and predecessor as “the brightest of a thousand points of light” and “a great and noble man” who managed a peaceful end to the Cold War and helped define the Republican establishment for the last half-century.
“He accepted that failure is a part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure,” said Bush, in a Washington, D.C., funeral service for the nation’s 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.
America’s five living presidents were among the hundreds of dignitaries and elected leaders, spanning decades of public service, crowded into the pews to celebrate the life and legacy of Bush.
Services for the patriarch of the Bush family, which dominated the Republican establishment and world affairs for much of the past century, prompted government offices to close and the nation to pause, mourn and celebrate the last president to serve from the so-called Greatest Generation.
President George W. Bush stood with his wife, Laura, and brother Jeb, a former Florida governor and presidential candidate, their eyes welling up and their hands across their hearts in a moment that was at once personal and national in its significance.
The world’s most exclusive club — Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — attended, rubbing elbows for the first time since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017 after a bitter campaign in which he criticized nearly every one of them.
The funeral lasted about two hours and featured readings from three of his grandchildren: Ashley Bush, Lauren Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.
The casket will be flown to Houston for a second funeral on Thursday before Bush is buried in College Station, home of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University.
The program also featured military bands and singers and included selections from American composers Aaron Copland and John Williams, among others.
Bush, whose close friends and family sometimes called him “41” to mark his order in the presidential procession, helped plan details of the funeral, which like other presidential funerals was carefully choreographed years in advance of his death.