A grateful nation kicked off its first official day of mourning Monday for George H. W. Bush, saluting the nation’s 41st president’s career of inspired service, calm leadership and dignified statesmanship.
Lifelong friends and devoted family members — including the son who would also become President — accompanied Bush’s body aboard Special Air Mission 41, the Air Force One craft specially designated for Bush in honor of the former naval aviator’s final flight to the nation’s capital. Bush’s casket was lifted by captains and commanding officers off an an aircraft carrier named in Bush’s honor.
There, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, under the banner of a joint-service color guard, with “Hail to the Chief” playing above the din, and a 21-gun salute puncturing the silence, the casket was met by a glossy, black Cadillac hearse with the presidential seal affixed to its doors and flags flapping in the wind just in front of the side mirrors.
Bush, 94, a one-term President, who was at the wheel when the Cold War ended, and was the last of the World War II generation to be Commander in chief, died Friday at his Texas home after a long bout with Parkinson’s Syndrome and other ailments.
When the motorcade arrived on Capitol Hill, it was met by an honorary collection of former White House workers, including former Vice President Dan Quayle and members of Bush’s cabinet who accompanied the body to the Rotunda.
Bush’s body will lie in state at the US Capitol ahead of a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday
“While he was known as the quiet man, it was not for lack of nerve or daring,” said Vice President Pence. “For in all of his 94 years, President Bush never lost his love of adventure and he never failed to answer the call to serve his country.”
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell called Bush “a humble servant.”
“Today this hero has returned to the Capitol a final time,” McConnell said. “A steady hand staying the course. That’s what George Bush gave us for decades. Through Cold War and the Soviet Union’s collapse, he kept us on course. He kept us flying higher, and challenged us to fly higher still.”
Among those scheduled to attend the funeral is President Trump. Despite personal clashes between Trump and the Bush family, the 41st president made clear that he wanted Trump at the funeral, putting the institution of the presidency above personal differences.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump briefly paid their respects to Bush at the Capitol on Monday night.
Trump quickly saluted the casket before he left. Later, he tweeted a 20-second White House showing the casket lying in state, and his salute. He was scheduled to meet privately with Bush’s family on Tuesday evening.
George W. Bush, the 43rd President, will eulogize his father at Wednesday’s service.
Major U.S. stock markets will close Wednesday in Bush’s honor. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq said over the weekend that they will close trading Wednesday in observance of a national day of mourning for Bush.
The federal government will also be closed.
The NYSE also said it will display the U.S. flag that flies above the New York Stock Exchange at half-staff in honor of the former president.
U.S. traders also observed a moment of silence before markets opened on Monday in honor of Bush.
Twelve years have passed since the nation mourned a former President, Gerald Ford, who died in 2006.
In Houston, Bush’s home in retirement, Bush was scheduled to be honored at City Hall in a ceremony where attendees wore colorful socks, in a nod to one of the former president’s favorite fashion accessories.
Bush often sported bright socks at public events, sometimes with loud and unusual patterns.
Family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted Monday that Bush “will be carried to his final rest” wearing gray socks saluting the Armed Forces. McGrath said the socks were in tribute to Bush’s “lifetime of service,” which started when he was an 18-year-old Naval aviator during World War II.