President George W. Bush delivered a moving tribute to his father at his memorial service in Washington – then broke down in tears at the end of a eulogy as he spoke plainly of the 41st president as a caring father.
‘Through our tears let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man,’ Bush said of his father and namesake, George H.W. Bush.
He called him ‘the best father a son or daughter can have’ – losing his composure and lowering his head amid tears after delivering the preceding speech at a clipped face.
‘And in our grief, I just smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again,’ Bush said.
He was referring to Robin Bush, the second Bush child who died at the tender age of three of leukemia in 1953.
‘We’re going to miss you your decency, sincerity and your kind soul will stay with us forever,’ he said at the end of his remarks.
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George W. Bush broke into sobs at the end of his touching eulogy to his father. He described how his father's final words were, to him and on the phone. He told him: 'I love you too'
As he made his way back from the pulpit, George W. placed a loving hand on his father's flag draped casket as he cried
The former president received rapturous applause from the congregation, many of whom were left in tears by his emotional tribute
After roaring applause from the congregation, George W. was comforted by his wife and his brother Jeb as he returned to his pew. He sobbed some more then started smiling, kissed his wife and clutched his brother's hand
The casket of George H.W. Bush arrives in the National Cathedral in Washington DC on Wednesday in front of thousands of mourners who gathered to bid farewell to the 41st president
Earlier in his remarks, the 43rd president described calling his father during the final minutes of his life.
‘I called him. I said dad, I love you you’ve been a wonderful father. And the last words he would ever say on earth were, “I love you too,” he said.
Bush, the first president since John Quincy Adams to follow his father to the nation’s highest office, also spoke of some of the values his father displayed in office.
Former President George H.W. Bush died on Friday at home in Houston, Texas. He was 94
‘He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country,’ Bush said.
He wove back and forth during his remarks from the personal to the national and political, referencing his father’s war service and service to the nation as well as the family that was central to his life.
After marrying his sweetheart, George H.W. Bush was married to Barbara Bush for 73 years.
‘He laughed and cried with her. He was dedicated to her totally,’ he said.
Late in life, they would watch police show reruns, with ‘the volume on high. All the while holding mom’s hand.’
After she died, ‘All he really wanted to do was hold mom’s hand again,’ he said.
He also spoke of his father’s devotion to Robin Bush despite losing her so young. He said he prayed to her every day. ‘He showed us how setbacks could strengthen,’ Bush said.
The former president included lighter moments in his eulogy.
‘His short game was lousy,’ he said, speaking of golf. ‘He wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor.
'The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli,’ he said. ‘And by the way, he passed these genetic defects on to us,’ Bush quipped.
‘George Bush knew how to be a true and loyal friend,’ his son said. He said his father penned thousands of hand-written notes.
‘He listened and he consoled. He was their friend.’ He spoke of some of those the late president embraced, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and ‘unlikeliest of all the, man who defeated him’ – President Bill Clinton.
He said the family would joke that they all were ‘brothers from other mothers.’
Bush, whose own tumultuous presidency was measured against his father’s while it was unfolding, said the history books would be kind to his dad.
‘They will say that George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States. A diplomat of unmatched skill. A commander in chief of formidable accomplishment,’ his son said.
The casket of former president George H.W. Bush is carried in to the National Cathedral in Washington DC on Wednesday
Jeb Bush wipes a tear during the memorial service for his father on Wednesday
Former first lady Laura Bush also cried throughout the service
There were laughs among the tears as the first of several speakers gave glowing and emotional tributes to the former president
George W. Bush laughs along with his wife Laura as they listen to eulogies dedicated to his father at Wednesday's service
In more somber moments of the service, former president George W. Bush struggled to contain his emotions
Jeb Bush laughs while his sister-in-law wipes a tear from her eye and former president George W. Bush smirks at them both as Jon Meacham, a journalist who penned George H.W. Bush's biography, speaks
George H.W.'s casket was the centerpiece for a once-in-a-generation funeral – at times both soul-searing and hilarious – as he journeyed toward his final resting place.
D.C.'s biggest bells tolled as pallbearers from every military service branch walked a somber cadence. Crosses and candles shared a procession with a single American flag. Alleluias rang out, led by a military chorus and the church's own choir including children too young to have known any president named Bush.
Former President George W. Bush, the late leader’s most visible legacy, entered the cathedral last, taking his place with other family members in front pew across a well-worn aisle from President Donald Trump and every living former president.
He was seen fighting back tears at the Capitol as his father’s body left the building. A more stoic Bush stood at attention for his father along with more than 1,000 other black-clad Americans as eight men in dress uniforms walked a rehearsed cadence and gently placed the coffin at the altar.
A 21-gun salute, the week's fourth, had rung out an hour earlier, booming over a quiet, damp Washington morning at the Capitol. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines saluted their former commander-in-chief. Mourners lined the streets. And dignitaries from all over the world were on hand to see him arrive at a house of God.
His stately cathedral memorial was held after a day and a half of lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where Republicans and Democrats lined up for hours to pay their final respects.
Historian Jon Meacham, author of a biography of the 41st president, said in the day's first eulogy that the senior Bush was 'America's last great soldier-statesman, a 20th Century founding father.'
'He stood in the breach in the cold war against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship,' Meacham said. 'He stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination.'
In a moment that could be interpreted as a jab at President Trump, seated just yards away, he said: 'On his watch, a wall fell in Berlin.'
Meacham noted, too, Bush's signature on the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying 'doors across America opened' to millions as a result.
Jenna Bush Hager gives a reading at her grandfather George H.W. Bush's funeral. She placed a loving hand on her grandfather's casket as she made her way to the pulpit. She read Revelation 21:1-4; verses 6-7 and 23-25
Lauren Bush Lauren speaks as her sister, Ashley, stands behind her at the funeral of their grandfather George H.W. Bush. They are the daughter's of Neil Bush. They read Isaiah 60: 1-5, verses 18-20
President Donald Trump listens intently with his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, and former president Barack Obama at the funeral of America's 41st president . They were joined by former president Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary and former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn
Prince Charles was seated near Vice President Mike Pence at the funeral of George H.W. Bush on Wednesday
Charles sat quietly throughout the service behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other mourners
Former president George W. Bush shakes hands with historian Jon Meacham after his remarks
Brothers George W. Bush and his wife Barbara lead the funeral procession. They were followed by his brother Neil Bush with his wife Maria and former Florida governor Jeb Bush with his wife Columba
Barbara Bush (right) arrives with her brother-in-law Henry Chase Hager (center) and her twin sister Jenna (left) for the funeral
Before taking his seat in the first row, former president George W. Bush greeted former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and their wives and President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump
Like George Washington, John Adams and Harry Truman, Meacham said, Bush 'believed in causes larger than themselves.'
Meacham also made George W. Bush laugh.
Recalling the elder Bush campaigning furiously, he said the future president once grasped the hand of a mannequin by mistake. 'He said: "Never know. Gotta ask",' Meachem deadpanned.
He quoted Saturday Night Live comedian Dana Carvey explaining his success portraying the then-president, saying it was 'Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne.'
And chuckling along with the memory of 'a loving man with a big, vibrant, all-enveloping heart,' Meacham remembered Bush's self-deprecation at his own malapropisms and awkward turns of phrase: 'Fluency in English is not something I'm often accused of.'
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush, a friend for decades, as a resolute and determined president whom foreign leaders respected.
'Every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader,' he said.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, holding hands with his wife Columba, comforts his brother, former president George W. Bush, outside the National Cathedral before their father's funeral on Wednesday. Behind Columba is Neil Bush, their younger brother
Former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura follow the casket of his father into the National Cathedral
George W. Bush salutes his father's casket as it arrives the National Cathedral on Wednesday after being driven from the Capitol
A century from now, he declared, 'it will be said that in the life of this country, the United States – which is in my judgment the greatest democratic republic that God has placed on this earth – I believe it will be said that no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable.'
But he also 'had a delightful sense of humor and was a lot of fun.'
Remembering Bush's first NATO meeting, he described a lengthy, plodding address by Iceland's leader.
'The smaller the country,' Bush told him later, 'the longer the speech.'
Retired Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, known as a jokester during his Washington years, had Bush the younger cracking broad grins and laughing.
He told a story that filled in a historical gap from the 1992 campaign, when George H.W. Bush was struggling amid low poll numbers and trying to save his hopes of a second term.
'Remember Lincoln, going to his knees in times of trial and the Civil War and all that stuff?' he asked a group of insurance workers in Dover, New Hampshire.
'You can't be. And we're blessed. So don't feel sorry for – don't cry for me, Argentina!'
'The press then wrote that he was finally losing his marbles,' Simpson recalled, talking about bush's sudden lapse into an Andrew Lloyd Webber lyric.
But he and Bush and their wives, he said, had attended a concert of Webber hits two nights earlier, and sang the 'Evita' tune all the way back to 1600 Avenue.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Washington DC to pay their respects as the funeral procession moved slowly past them
The flag draped casket bearing former president George H.W. Bush is removed from the Rotunda by US Air Force Honor Guardsmen on Wednesday ahead of his state funeral
The hearse was driven slowly past the White House on its way to the National Cathedral from the US Capitol
More than 50,000 people lined the route of motorcade to pay their respects to George H.W. Bush on Wednesday morning
The mourners placed their hands over their hearts and held up signs as the motorcade drove past them
Mourners line the route of former president George H.W. Bush's funeral procession on Wednesday
In a stolen moment of relative privacy on Wednesday, president George W. Bush shut his eyes as he followed his father's casket to the National Cathedral
President Donald Trump sat alongside three former Democratic presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – a tribute to the man for whom they showed varying degrees of contempt and admiration while he was alive.
Trump has been consistently critical of the late Bush for his military adventurism and regime-change policies in the Persian Gulf and Panama, which he believes sacrificed too much American blood and treasure for minimal return.
He even mocked Bush's Thousand Points of Light volunteerism program this summer, claiming his 'Make America Great Again' slogan provided a better, more aspirational vision.
But following Friday's death of Bush at age 94, the current president treated Americans to a kinder, gentler Trump.
'We lost a president who truly was a wonderful person, a wonderful man, a great man,' he told reporters in Argentina during the G20 summit.
On Wednesday he proclaimed the cathedral service 'not a funeral, this is a day of celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life. He will be missed!'
Trump sat in the front row but didn't offer a eulogy. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday that former President George W. Bush had 'dibs.'
Former president Barack Obama greets President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump
Former vice president Gore greets former president Bill Clinton (left) as former first lady and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton greets former vice president Joe Biden (right)
Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama were among mourners in the cathedral
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama embrace as they prepare to take their seats inside the National Cathedral
The Clintons and the Obamas greeted one another warmly before taking their seats in the cathedral
Former first lady Michelle Obama waves hello to a fellow mourner as her husband speaks with Chelsea Clinton
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump took their seats in the cathedral on Wednesday with other mourners ahead of the service
Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) and Queen Rania greet Prince Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was wheeled into the ceremony quietly
Former US Secretary of State James Baker arrives at the funeral of George H.W. Bush on Wednesday
Other eulogists included Alan Simpson, the former senator from Wyoming; Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister who also spoke at Ronald Reagan's funeral; and presidential historian Jon Meacham, who wrote a Bush biography.
Clinton owed many of his successes to Bush's groundwork, including a NATO expansion, Middle East peace talks and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which historians view as an impossibility without Bush's optimistic cajoling in prior years.
Trump now views all three as failures of leadership, seeing weakness where modern Democrats see calculated restraint and humility.
Obama generally admired Bush as more Democratic than Republican, especially for his widely panned willingness to raise taxes and what he called a 'Hippocratic' approach to foreign policy. Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 2011.
But America's first black president privately groused in his White House about Bush's appointment of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative African-American whom he believed undermined civil rights.
George H.W. Bush is the only former president Jimmy Carter hasn't swiped at during his post-presidency. Even Obama drew his ire for ordering drone strikes against Middle Eastern terrorists, and for failing to shutter the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp.
He lionized Bush on Saturday for his 'grace, civility, and social conscience.'
The late president's remains began the weekend in Houston. Family members accompanied the casket to Washington on the plane that typically serves as Air Force One.
In a hushed quiet that's rare in America's bustling Capitol complex, Bush lay in state while dignitaries and family passed underneath the towering Capitol Dome.
An estimated 57,000 people joined them, one by one.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pictured at the funeral of George H.W. Bush on Wednesday
Former Vice President Joe Biden arrives with his wife Jill (left). Bill Clinton's Vice President Al Gore is pictured arriving (right)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (left) and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning (right) arrive at the funeral
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell (center) and his wife Alma (right) were pictured arriving with former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady (left)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives at the National Cathedral on Wednesday morning (left). Former Vice President Dick Cheney is pictured inside (right)
Political strategist and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is pictured arriving at the funeral
US Senator Dianne Feinstein (left) and Journalist Tom Brokow (right) arrive for the service
Ninety-five-year-old Bob Dole, a former senator and, like Bush, an undisputed World War II hero, made the most dramatic silent statement: rising from his wheelchair for a moment, determined to stand just long enough to salute his fallen comrade.
George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush surprised mourners Tuesday night, returning for a second visit hours after the televised, polished arrival ceremony.
Seeing a mother and child in the crowd, his eyes lit up and he was at once the all-smiles president Americans knew during the eight months before the 9/11 terror attacks.
He held the tiny girl aloft and posed for photos with his father's casket in the background, a tableau that spanned five generations and nearly a century of American history.
A return trip eight miles in the air aboard 'Special Mission 41' was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon after a Cadillac hearse bearing the Seal of the President of the United States makes a slow drive past the White House.
After a second public viewing in Houston, Texans will say their farewells at an Episcopal church service before Bush's flag-draped coffin is hoisted aboard a specialized Union Pacific train car for a 2-1/2 hour trip to the university town of College Station.
The 24-page order of service is shown above in full
That's the home of Texas A&M University, the site of Bush's presidential library. It is also the final resting place of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, who died eight months before him – and of Robin Bush, their daughter who died of leukemia before her fourth birthday.
Bush's departure from the Capitol, where he once served in Congress for four years and occupied the office space now belonging to New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries.