The nation’s capital is bidding its final farewell to former President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday in a service of prayer and praise that has drawn together world envoys, Americans of high office and many others who were touched by Bush’s life in office and afterward.
A military band played “Hail to the Chief” as the casket of the 41st president was carried down the U.S. Capitol steps in a solemn procession, with members of the Bush family watching and a cannon salute. His son, former President George W. Bush, placed his hand over his heart. Military pallbearers carried the casket up the steps to the cathedral.
The hearse had been driven in a motorcade to the Washington National Cathedral ceremony, slowing in front of the White House. Bush’s route was lined with people much of the way, bundled in winter hats and taking photos.
A military color guard stood at attention as the hearse arrived.
Wednesday’s ceremonies capped three days of remembrance in the nation’s capital by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honored the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War world 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 all came — among them, George W. Bush who 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.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was “looking forward to being with the Bush family,” calling the day “a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.” Trump and his wife took their seats after the others, briefly greeting the Obamas seated next to them.
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.