In Funeral of Pomp and Pageantry, Nation Bids Farewell to George Bush

06-12-2018 08:12

Called Poppy by his family, Gampy by his grandchildren and 41 by his son, Mr. Bush was a patrician by birth and a preppy by inclination, yet in many ways the most human of presidents. He was hardly the towering figure Reagan was, but neither was he as remote. His foibles were easily parodied, but his humanity was not. Nearly everyone who gathered in Washington had a story of a gracious personal note or gesture.

Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming and a longtime friend, said Mr. Bush could have just one letter as his epigraph, L for loyalty. “It coursed through his blood,” he said. “Loyalty to his country, loyalty to his family, loyalty to his friends, loyalty to the institutions of government and always, always, always a friend to his friends.”

For George W. Bush, the eulogy was always going to be a challenge to deliver without crying. It was crafted to help him get through, laugh lines intermixed with the serious in hopes that it would make it easier. But at the end, he could not help himself and his voice thickened with grief as he looked down to regain control.

As he returned to his seat, giving two pats to his father’s coffin as he strode past, Mr. Bush sat down and wiped his eyes, then laughed, probably at himself for not quite making it all the way through. His brother Jeb smiled and reached over to squeeze his hand.

The rest of the family sat nearby, including Mr. Bush’s other children, Neil, Marvin and Doro, and a passel of grandchildren. Three granddaughters — Lauren Bush Lauren, Ashley Walker Bush and Jenna Bush Hager — offered readings. Ronan Tynan, the Irish tenor who sang for Mr. Bush on his last day, performed “The Last Full Measure of Devotion.”

Also on hand were leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and titans of the Bush era like James A. Baker III, Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell and Dan Quayle. Mr. Baker, the president’s best friend long before becoming his secretary of state, sobbed openly when a minister described him rubbing Mr. Bush’s feet on the day of his death.

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