The last few days we’ve had the opportunity to witness the “majesty of state” as we paid our respects to the former President George H. W. Bush. As a young country, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have the rich history or traditions of those nations that have been around for considerably longer. But the funeral and surrounding ceremonies and events were a reminder that youthful roots can still run deep. I found myself watching the coverage both fascinated and moved by the respect and celebration given to our former President. It was a demonstration that regardless of politics, our nation can come together and honor the life of a man who dedicated his life to the service of his country. Here were some of the sweetest moments from the funeral and ceremonies.
George W. Bush’s eulogy. If you haven’t listened to it yet – you need to. It was honest, funny, and incredibly touching.
Bob Dole standing to salute the casket. 95-year-old wheelchair-bound Bob Dole stood to pay his last respects to his former WWII veteran.
The displays of bipartisanship. Though we tend to hear the worst about our politicians, seeing them stand side-by-side during the ceremonies and mingle together in the pre-funeral coverage was a good reminder that at the end of the day we’re all just people, and that humanity trumps politics.
Every time they played “Hail to the Chief.” Every time former President Bush’s casket was removed from the hearse – on its journey from Texas to Washington, from Air Force One to the Capitol Rotunda, when it was moved to the National Cathedral, and when it was transported back to Texas, a band played “Hail to the Chief.” I found the respect and honor incredibly touching every time.
His service dog, Sully, saying goodbye. Sully had only been with the former President for about six months and is still a very young service dog. He is happiest when he’s working, so he’ll be continuing his service at Walter Reed in service to other veterans.
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Former President George W. Bush handing Michelle Obama a candy. At John McCain’s funeral, former President George W. Bush famously handed Michelle Obama a mint. He pre-emptively did the same thing on Wednesday. It was a sweet and silly gesture that’s a reminder of the underlying humanity of people that seem larger than life.
Melania Trump’s invitation to the White House. The Bush family stayed at the Blair House, the Presidential guest house across the street from the White House. Melania Trump extended an invitation for the extended Bush family to visit and view the annually anticipated White House Christmas decorations, which was by all accounts a touching offer and enjoyable visit. No press was invited so the family enjoyed respect, privacy, and hospitality.
The consistent representation of his character. I know that at the end of someone’s life we tend to reflect on the positive. But in hearing so many people talk about George H. W. Bush it is clear that he lived his life with a high level of integrity.
Every time they showed former President George W. Bush blinking back tears. There were so many tight camera shots; I found myself feeling sorry for the former President as he had to say goodbye to his father while still maintaining a presidential aura. There were moments you knew he was trying his best to hold it together – and you were reminded that he was simply a son saying goodbye to his dad.
The 21-aircraft missing man flyover. As the casket arrived at the Presidential Library in College Station, TX where Bush’s body was to be buried, the band played “The Star Spangled Banner” which concluded with Navy pilots doing an unprecedented 21-aircraft flyover and missing man salute. The missing man salute occurs when one of the aircraft peels away, and was a tribute to President Bush’s time as a combat pilot. Try not to tear up as the jet disappears into the heavens.
The thousands of people who lined up to watch and pay tribute as the train carried his body through Texas. The demonstration of respect was so moving.
The processional across the footbridge as the family headed for a private burial. It was our last glimpse of the former President as he was carried out of sight on toward his final resting place.
What was your favorite moment from the funeral and ceremonies?