George HW Bush hailed the ‘last great-soldier statesman’ in eulogy

George HW Bush hailed the ‘last great-soldier statesman’ in eulogy

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The life of the 41st President of the US has been praised and celebrated at Washington National Cathedral, with historian Jon Meacham describing him as the ‘last great-soldier statesman’.

The service was attended by five US Presidents, including George HW Bush’s son George Bush.

In their row together, President Donald Trump and predecessors Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts as the coffin entered the cathedral.

Bush Senior - the last president to fight in the Second World War - was "the last great-soldier statesman", Meacham said in his eulogy.

On a light note, he added that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply cracked: "You never know."

The national funeral service caps three days of remembrance in Washington before Bush's body returns to Texas for his burial on Thursday.


A cannon salute

US President Donald Trump sat alongside, first lady Melania Trump, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

A military band played Hail To The Chief as the coffin was carried down the US Capitol steps in a solemn procession, with members of the Bush family watching and a cannon salute.

The hearse was driven in a motorcade to the cathedral, slowing in front of the White House.

Waiting for his arrival inside, Trump shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who looked straight ahead.

After the service, Bush's body will be returned to Houston to lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church before burial at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station.

His final resting place will be alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukaemia in 1953 at the age of three.

President Trump ordered the federal government closed on Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.