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Bush to be buried after four-day tribute

4 month ago, 06-Dec-2018

The funeral procession carrying the body of Bush passes down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Reuters photo

HOUSTON: George HW Bush was to be laid to rest Friday, concluding a four-day tribute to the 41st president that saw America briefly set aside its political divisions.

After a state funeral in Washington that was attended by the countrys five living presidents and foreign dignitaries, Bushs flag-draped coffin was flown to Houston.

He will lie in repose at St Martins Episcopal Church, where the Bushes worshipped for decades, until he is buried.

Bush will be interred at his presidential library in College Station next to his wife Barbara, who died in April, and their daughter Robin who died of leukemia at age three.

At the memorial service President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania shared a front row pew in the National Cathedral with past presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives as an honour guard brought Bushs casket into the prayer hall.

Former president George W Bush tapped the casket twice when he walked up to deliver a rousing eulogy, fighting through tears as he sang the praises of his father and predecessor as commander-in-chief, who died Friday at age 94.

Bush touches the casket of his father at the State Funeral at the National Cathedral. Reuters photo

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 was born with just two settings full throttle, then sleep. To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light, he said in a reference to his fathers signature call to volunteerism, he said.

The funeral capped a national homage that saw Bush lie in state in the US Capitol rotunda, where thousands paid respects to a statesman who steered the nation through turbulent times including the end of the Cold War and in a style dramatically different to the current president.

Since Bushs death, Trump has traded his usual provocative posture for one of solemnity, tweeting before the service about a day of celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.

He will be missed! Trump wrote.

At the funeral, Trump and his Democratic predecessors appeared locked in an uneasy truce.

Trump arrived and shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

But his greetings stopped there, and the body language turned cold as he failed to acknowledge Hillary Clinton, his defeated Democratic rival in 2016.

Clinton stared straight ahead and the two made no eye contact.

It was a marked contrast when Bush Jr arrived minutes later and shook hands with the current and past presidents and their wives and handed Michelle Obama a piece of candy, as he did during the memorial service for senator

John McCain in the same cathedral in September.

(From left) Trump, Melania, Obama, Michelle, Clinton, Hillary, and Carter listen as former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaks during a State Funeral at the National Cathedral. Reuters photo

Bells tolled while the casket was carried down the aisle, as dignitaries including Britains Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Polish president Lech Walesa, and former US vice-presidents and cabinet officials looked on.

Bush was a decorated World War II aviator who nearly died when he was shot down on a bombing mission.

He served as a congressman, envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice-president to Ronald Reagan before winning the White House.

Trumps ascendancy to the head of the Republican Party saw him exchange vitriolic attacks with the Bushes, notably slamming the presidential sons 2003 invasion of Iraq and mocking candidate Jeb Bush during the Republican primaries.

Bush Sr meanwhile branded Trump a blowhard, and revealed he did not vote for him. AFP

Bush and Laura follow behind a military honour guard carrying the flag-draped casket of his father after the state funeral. Reuters photo


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