The casket bearing President George H.W. Bush left the U.S. Capitol Wednesday morning as he began his journey toward his final resting place.
The former president’s children and their spouses, including former president George W. Bush, former first lady Laura Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, awaited his remains at the bottom of the Capitol stairs
They placed their hands over their hearts as a four cannon salute was fired and ‘Hail the Chief’ – the president’s theme song – played.
A 21-gun salute rang out over a quiet, damp Washington morning.
Pallbearers – representing the four branches of the military – carried Bush’s flag-draped coffin down the Capitol stairs with a flag bearing the president seal following behind.
They loaded the casket into the hearse as members of the Bush family watched. Former President Bush was seen fighting back tears.
The U.S. Capitol building was quiet for the former president’s final moments lying in state.
The rotunda was closed to the public at 7 a.m., leaving Bush’s casket alone under the Capitol’s dome with four members of the military standing watch over him.
An estimated 57,000 people – along with various dignitaries – came to pay their respects to the 41st president.
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
Former president George W Bush and his wife Laura were at the Rotunda to greet his father’s casket as it was removed. The former president blinked back tears as his father’s casket was carried past him
George and Laura were joined by George HW Bush’s children. They then escorted it to the cathedral for the funeral. L-R: Jeb Bush and his wife Columba, Dorothy Bush Koch and her husband Bob, Neil Bush and his wife Maria, former First Lady Laura Bush and George W. Marvin Bush and his wife Margaret were also there
The casket has been lying in the Rotunda since Monday. Thousands of people have flocked to it to pay their respects
A 21 gun salute rang out over a quiet, damp Washington morning as the casket was carried down the stairs to a waiting hearse
US Air Force Honor Guardsmen carry the former president’s casket into a waiting hearse to be taken to the cathedral
The hearse drove the former president the short drive from the Capitol to the National Cathedral at around 10.30am
The members of the congressional leadership lined up outside the Capitol to greet the Bush family when they arrived: Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Crowds of people lined Pennsylvania Avenue and waved to the motorcade of family members as they journeyed from Blair House, across the street from the White House, up to Capitol Hill.
Two lines of soldiers – representing various branches of the armed forces – walked up the Capitol stairs to stand watch as the president’s casket left for Washington National Cathedral and his funeral service there.
The streets were lined with people as the motorcade bearing the former president’s remains wound its way through Washington.
American flags lined the route.
The former president died on Friday at his home in Houston, Texas, aged 94 on Friday. He was brought to Washington DC on Air Force One on Monday with his family.
Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama were among mourners in the cathedral
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump took their seats in the cathedral on Wednesday with other mourners ahead of the service
Prince Charles was seated near Vice President Mike Pence 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
Since Monday, his casket has been at the Rotunda and has been visited by thousands of well wishers eager to pay their respects.
Among the first mourners to arrive at the cathedral on Wednesday were Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. They sat with former vice presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Joe Biden.
The Trump family also attended the service. Ahead of Wednesday’s 11am service, President Trump described it as ‘not a funeral’ but a ‘a day of celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.’
Trump tweeted that he was ‘[l]ooking forward to being with the Bush family.’ The president was in the front row but did not speak.
The Bush family has been staying at Blair House, the official White House guest house, since the start of the week. President Trump lent the family Air Force One to transport George H.W. Bush’s body to Washington DC on Monday.
The last three state funerals for former presidents have included eulogies from then-current Oval Office occupants, but former Florida governor Jeb Bush, one of the deceased statesman’s sons, said Tuesday that his older brother George W. Bush had ‘dibs’ on the centerpiece eulogy.
The ceremony drew together world envoys, Americans of high office and a guy from Maine who used to fix things in Bush’s house on the water.
All four living ex-presidents were in attendance, led by former President George W. Bush.
The other eulogists were be 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.
George H.W. Bush will be remembered as the man who oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, before losing re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.
Among the guests was be King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Rubbing shoulders with the dignitaries was 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.
On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the hushed Capitol Rotunda to view Bush’s casket and honor a president whose legacy included World War II military service and a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled.
President Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that the day was a ‘day of celebration for a great man’
Former Senator Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and onetime rival.
After the national funeral service at the cathedral, Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial Thursday 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 leukemia in 1953 at age three.
Trump ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.
As at notable moments in his life, Bush brought together Republicans and Democrats in his death.
Members of the public who never voted for the man waited in long lines on Tuesday to pay their respects, attesting that Bush possessed the dignity and grace that deserved to be remembered by all.
Leading the proceedings will be his eldest son and former President George W. Bush, who will give a eulogy (pictured alongside Laura Bush)
Jenna Bush Hager, second from left, her husband Henry Hager, left, her twin sister Barbara Bush, right, and Barbara’s husband Craig Coyne, second from right, stand by Bush Sr.’s coffin in the Capitol Rotunda
Barbara Bush kisses the casket of her grandfather, the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state
‘I’m just here to pay my respects,’ said Jane Hernandez, a retired physician in the heavily Democratic city and suburbs.
‘I wasn’t the biggest fan of his presidency, but all in all he was a good, sincere guy doing a really hard job as best he could.’
Bush’s service dog, Sully, was brought to the viewing, too — his main service these last months since Barbara Bush’s death in April being to rest his head on her husband’s lap. Service dogs are trained to do that.
The CIA also honored Bush, the only spy chief to become president, as three agency directors past and present joined the public in the viewing.
In the midst of the period of mourning, first lady Melania Trump gave Laura Bush, one of her predecessors, a tour of holiday decorations at the White House, a ‘sweet visit during this somber week,’ as Mrs. Bush’s Instagram account put it.
Marvin Bush, H.W. Bush’s youngest son, pays his respects alongside wife Margaret Conway Molster
Donald Woody, fifth from left, of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota, joins members of the public in paying their respects to H.W. Bush
The Trumps also visited members of the Bush family at the Blair House presidential guesthouse, where they are staying. W. Bush and his wife greeted the Trumps outside before a private, 20-minute visit.
People lined up before dawn to pay respects to the 41st president, a son and father of privilege now celebrated by everyday citizens for his common courtesies and depth of experience.
‘He was so qualified, and I think he was just a decent man,’ said Sharon Terry, touring Washington with friends from an Indianapolis garden club.
Her friend Sue Miller added: ‘I actually think I underestimated him when he was in office. My opinion of him went up seeing how he conducted himself as a statesman afterward.’
Fred Curry, an African-American, is a registered Democrat from Hyattsville, Maryland, who voted for Bush in 1988, the election won by the one-term president.
‘Honestly I just liked him,’ he said. ‘He seemed like a sincere and decent man and you couldn’t argue with his qualifications.’
Bob Dole, now aged 95, who was a wartime compatriot of Bush’s and joined him in the US senate, was lifted from his wheelchair to salute his one-time rival turned friend on Tuesday
The president’s service dog Sully was brought to his casket on Tuesday. He had been by his side for the last months of his life
Inside the Capitol, Sully, the two-year-old Labrador retriever assigned to Bush, sat by the casket in the company of people who came to commemorate Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1990 law that, among its many provisions, required businesses that prohibit pets to give access to service dogs.
‘After Mrs. Bush’s death, general companionship was a big part of Sully’s job,’ John Miller, president and CEO of America’s VetDogs, said in a phone interview.
‘One of the things that I think was important to the president was the rest command, where Sully would rest his head on the president’s lap.’
The law was just one point of intersection for Bush and Dole, now 95, who was one of its leading advocates in the Senate.
They were fellow World War II veterans, Republican Party leaders, fierce rivals for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination won by Bush (‘Stop lying about my record,’ Dole snapped at Bush) and skilled negotiators.
Lines wound around Capitol Hill this week as people waited to make their way into the rotunda and wish Bush farewell
Dole, an Army veteran hit by German machine gunfire in Italy, has gone through life with a disabled right arm. Bush, a Navy pilot, survived a bail-out from his stricken aircraft over the Pacific and an earlier crash landing.
On Tuesday Dole was helped out of his wheelchair by an aide, slowly steadied himself and saluted Bush with his left hand, his chin quivering.
Dignitaries had come forward on Monday, too, to honor the Texan whose service to his country extended three quarters of a century, from World War II through his final years as an advocate for volunteerism and relief for people displaced by natural disaster. Bush, 94, died Friday.
Trump’s relationship with the Bush family has been tense. The current president has mocked the elder Bush for his ‘thousand points of light’ call to volunteerism, challenged his son’s legacy as president and trounced ‘low-energy’ Jeb Bush in the Republican presidential primaries en route to office. The late President Bush called Trump a ‘blowhard.’
Those insults have been set aside, but the list of funeral service speakers marked the first time since Lyndon Johnson’s death in 1973 that a sitting president was not tapped to eulogize a late president. (Clinton did so for Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush eulogized Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.)
Bush’s death reduces membership in the ex-presidents’ club to four: Jimmy Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
A guide to George H.W. Bush’s funeral
President George H.W. Bush is getting a national farewell at Washington National Cathedral before family, friends, presidents and foreign dignitaries.
The nation’s 41st president died Friday at age 94. His wife of 73 years, Barbara, passed away in April.
Things to know about the event Wednesday:
Bush’s casket has been lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda since Monday, with a river of mourners passing through around the clock. The viewing comes to a close at 7 a.m. EST Wednesday. The casket and the family will arrive at the cathedral just before 11 a.m., when the service is expected to begin.
HOW TO WATCH
The service is closed to the public, but will be aired live on C-SPAN and covered by major television networks.
WHO WILL SPEAK
Four men are expected to deliver eulogies. The late president’s son George W. Bush, also a former president; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who held the post while the elder Bush was president; former Sen. Alan Simpson, , who has known the Bush family since the 1960s; and historian Jon Meacham, who wrote a Bush biography.
Public viewing of the casket will close at 7am EST before the family arrives ready for the service to begin at 11am
WHO WILL BE THERE
All eyes will be on the row directly in front of the pulpit. That’s where President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are expected to sit, along with the remaining former presidents and their families: George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and his wife — Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Trump has had strained relations (at best) with all of them. But since Bush’s death, Trump has extended traditional courtesies to the Bush family, including allowing them to stay at the presidential guest house and visiting with them there.
Also attending: Britain’s Prince Charles, the king and queen of Jordan, Polish President Andrzej Duda and other dignitaries from around the world. Look, too, for some of the graybeards from the late president’s administration.
Look for much discussion of Bush’s legacy of decency, humor and a determination to avoid referring to himself with the pronoun ‘I.’ That last habit alone, instilled in Bush by his mother, sets up a contrast with Trump that no one has to mention out loud.
Likely, no one will, in keeping with the Bush family’s reported wish that the nation mourn their patriarch without the drama of such distractions.
But Meacham wrote an op-ed for The New York Times this week about Bush that ended with a hard-to-mistake reference.
‘The nation mourns him not least because we no longer have a president who knows that the story of the nation is not all about him,’ Meacham wrote.
BUSH AND THE CATHEDRAL
The late president played an important role in the history of the cathedral chartered by Congress in 1893.
On Sept. 29, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone. Exactly 83 years later, Bush was there when the final stone was laid in place.
Bush said at the time: ‘We have constructed here this symbol of our nation’s spiritual life, overlooking the center of our nation’s secular life, a symbol which combines the permanence of stone and God — both of which will outlast men and memories.’
Bush is the fourth president to have his state funeral at the site, according to the cathedral. The others were Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Seven other presidents had memorial services there.
George W. Bush (left, with wife Laura) will join three other former presidents in the service and will give a eulogy, and will also be joined by current President Donald Trump (right) and his wife Melania
A BIT ABOUT STATE FUNERALS
For U.S. presidents, there’s a whole list of customs, protocols and military honors that influence a national farewell, but much of the affair is subject to the family’s wishes.
The president’s survivors are entitled to a military escort for the immediate family, for example, until the remains are buried. A nine-person team that carries the casket is another option. And a flag-draped casket is an honor afforded military veterans and the president as commander in chief.
Bush was a veteran of World War II.
THE LAST TIME
Sen. John McCain’s funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral after he died in August of brain cancer.
Trump, who derided McCain’s heroism in Vietnam and prodded the senator even during his illness, was asked by the family to stay away.
But it seemed like the rest of Washington attended and the event became widely regarded as a repudiation of the current president. The assembled crowd burst into applause when McCain’s daughter, Meghan, loudly rejected Trumpism from the pulpit without naming the president. Trump spent the day playing golf.
WHERE TO NEXT
Bush’s casket will return to Texas late Wednesday for the last time.
He’s expected to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston until 7 a.m. EST Thursday. The church will also hold its own memorial service for the former president later that morning.
A motorcade will take Bush’s body to Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility, where a funeral train will transport the late president’s remains to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
He’ll be laid to rest on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, near his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.