U.S. “Puts Politics Aside” to Honour George H.W. Bush’s Life of Service, and Mulroney Eulogizes his Partner in Geo-Politics
George W. Bush touches his father's casket on his way to the podium. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images.
As a military band played “Hail to the Chief” one last time, the casket of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was carried by an honour guard into a jam-packed Washington National Cathedral for the state funeral of the 41st Commander-in-Chief on Wednesday.
In the front row of the cathedral, paying their last respects, was current U.S. President Donald Trump and wife Melania, along with all living former presidents and their spouses: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter.
While Trump has been highly critical of the politics of the Bush family in the past, H.W. made it known before he died that he didn’t want anyone excluded from his funeral. In an interview before the funeral, George P. Bush noted that his grandfather wanted the funeral to be an opportunity to “put politics aside and focus on the greatness of our country and devotion to causes greater than ourselves.”
As the bells tolled, George W. and wife Laura led the Bush family up the main aisle, stopping at the front to shake hands with the “presidents club.”
Also on hand was a gathering of world leaders, including Prince Charles, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish President Andrzej Duda, among others.
With the flag-draped casket on the altar, Lauren Bush Lauren and Ashley Walker Bush read scripture passages, followed by an address by presidential historian and Bush biographer John Meacham, who recalled how Bush — “America’s last great soldier/statesman” — spent his whole life in service to “causes greater than himself.” He was, said Meacham, “a loving man, with a big, enveloping, loving heart.”
Canada’s representative, Brian Mulroney, also spoke at the funeral for his close friend and political ally. During his eulogy, the former Canadian Prime Minister, who also spoke at Ronald Reagan’s funeral in 2004, spoke “about the courageous generation of young Americans” who brought “new strength and glory to the U.S.”
Listing Bush’s accomplishments, Mulroney focused on his “deft” handling of the downfall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Berlin Wall — epochal events of the 20th century. Quoting former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Mulroney said it could never have succeeded without the “brilliant leadership of President Bush.”