- Former President George H.W. Bush will be honored with a state funeral at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday, the first presidential funeral since 2006.
- President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will attend the service with all the other living presidents, which will feature eulogies from close friends in addition to former President George W. Bush.
- Many heads of state and foreign dignitaries, including Britain’s Prince Charles and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will be in attendance to honour the foreign policy achievements Bush made for their countries.
- Trump declared Wednesday, December 5 a national day of mourning in honour of the 41 st president.
- After the Washington, DC service, Bush’s body will be taken back to Texas, where he will be buried on Thursday on the grounds of his presidential library, next to his wife and daughter.
Politicians, dignitaries, and all of the living presidents have descended on Washington, DC Wednesday for the funeral of President George H.W. Bush.
The nation’s 41st president died last Friday at the age of 94.
Wednesday morning, Bush’s casket will be taken from the US Capitol to Washington National Cathedral, where a memorial service will be held. His son, President George W. Bush, is expected to make the main eulogy in front of a large crowd including current President Donald Trump and first lady Melania.
Trump designated Wednesday as a day of national mourning in honour of Bush. All executive departments, federal agencies, and the stock market are shuttered for the day.
The White House also issued a presidential proclamation that the American flag will fly half-staff on all public buildings and grounds, military posts, and US embassies around the world for the 30 days following Bush’s death.
The world mourns
The service at the National Cathedral is the most high-profile part of several events taking place in Bush’s honour this week.
At the ceremony, Bush will be eulogized by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (who signed NAFTA with Bush), close friend and former US Sen. Alan Simpson, and presidential historian Jon Meacham, who was Bush’s biographer.
Many other world leaders will be in attendance to mark the foreign policy achievements Bush made for their countries while he was in office, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I mourn George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, as the chancellor of the German Federal Republic but also as a German who, without the results of his policies, would hardly be standing here,” she said after Bush died.
Nasser Alahmed Al-Sabah, the former prime minister of Kuwait, will also be there to mark Bush’s leadership in liberating his country in the Gulf War.
Trump will not speak at the funeral, but is was expected to give his condolences in private to the Bush family Tuesday at Blair House, the presidential guesthouse, which he opened up for them, sources told CNN.
On Monday, Bush’s casket was flown from Houston to Washington, DC on Air Force One so that his body could lie in state at the Capitol, where he served as a representative for the state of Texas for nearly 15 years in the 1960s and ’70s.
After the DC service, Bush’s casket fly back to Texas, where it will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church until Thursday morning, when a smaller funeral will take place.
Thursday afternoon, Bush’s body will be taken by train to his presidential library in College Station, Texas, where he will be interred on the grounds next to his daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3, and his wife Barbara, who died in April.
The ceremony is a rare honour, reserved for major figures
Bush’s will be the first presidential funeral since Gerald Ford’s in 2006, and the first major political funeral since more than 2,000 prominent business, media, military, and political figures gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a ceremony to honour the late Sen. John McCain.
Bush’s state funeral will be the fourth in three decades. Though guided by tradition, presidents decide the details of their funerals themselves soon after taking office.
State funerals are usually seven to 10 days long and include three stages. The Joint Task Force describes the process:
“Stage I includes ceremonies within the state in which the president, former president, or president-elect was in residence. Stage II includes ceremonies within Washington, DC, and Stage III includes ceremonies in the state in which the authorised individual has chosen to be interred.”
News of Bush’s passing prompted an outpouring of praise and fond memories from former heads of state and world leaders.
“President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!”
Here’s the schedule of events for the rest of the week:
10 a.m. ET: Bush’s casket departs the US Capitol building for Washington National Cathedral.
11 a.m. ET: Memorial service begins at Washington National Cathedral.
12:30 p.m.: Bush’s casket is taken from the cathedral to Join Base Andrews.
1:15 p.m. ET: The casket is then flown from Joint Base Andrews to Ellington Field in Harris County, Texas.
4:30 p.m. ET: Plane arrives in Texas.
7:45 p.m. ET: Bush’s remains lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church until 7 a.m. Thursday.
11 a.m. ET: Funeral service is held at St. Martin’s Episcopal.
12:15 p.m. ET: Departure ceremony from the church.
1:30 p.m. ET: Bush’s remains are taken by motorcade to the Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility, where they will then be transported by funeral car train to College Station, Texas.
4:45 p.m. ET: Arrival at Texas A&M University
5:15 p.m. ET: Burial at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
- Read more about the life and legacy of George H.W. Bush:
- Prince Charles joins the list of presidents, dignitaries, and DC heavyweights set to attend George H.W. Bush’s funeral
- George H.W. Bush’s funeral will be shaped by generations of tradition dating back to the 1800s
- President George H.W. Bush’s funeral expected to set aside political bickering, focus on his life
- Trump orders the federal government to close on December 5 ‘as a mark of respect’ for George H.W. Bush
- George H.W. Bush used his last words to tell his son he loved him
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