George H.W. Bush memorial service today at National Cathedral
Leaders from across the globe are set to gather Wednesday morning to pay tribute to the late President George H.W. Bush in a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The 41st president’s casket is scheduled to depart the Capitol rotunda, where he was lying in state, at 10 a.m. EST. A motorcade will transport his remains to the cathedral, where a service is set to take place at 11 a.m.
Bush will be the fourth U.S. president to have a state funeral at the National Cathedral after Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Gerald Ford in 2007. Woodrow Wilson was buried there.
Several religious leaders will lead Wednesday’s services, including the Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington; the Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral; and the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Bush’s home church.
Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush, will eulogize his father during the ceremony, along with historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
The 41st president and Mulroney shared a long-lasting friendship after leading their respective countries concurrently. The Canadian leader regularly visited Bush at his Maine retreat in Kennebunkport, his most recent visit coming in September when the latter knew his death was near.
”It was clear it would be my last visit with him — ever,” Mulroney said, according to The Globe and Mail. He said he began writing the eulogy at the visit.
”This is very hard to write,” he said. ”George Bush was such a big part of my life and an important player in Canada’s life and a model for anyone who wants to serve in public life. It’s hard to piece this together.”
Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for his political biographies, including Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. He spent nine years interviewing the Bush family before writing the 2015 biography and also spoke at the funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush.
“George Herbert Walker Bush, who died Friday night, at 94, was the last president of the Greatest Generation, a gentleman who came of age in an ever-uglier arena, the embodiment of a postwar era of consensus that, in our time, seems as remote as Agincourt,” Meacham wrote in The New York Times on Saturday.
Simpson’s friendship with the 41st president dated back to the 1960s, when the former senator’s father sold his Washington, D.C., residence to the Bushes. The families also camped together.
“We had some great times, one of them in Glacier Park with George & Barbara, just the four of us,” Simpson told KTVQ-TV in Billings, Mont. “Boy we boogied around there when he was vice president. He was a decent, wonderful, civilized man, good common sense, manners. I know manners is a sick thing, nobody knows what the hell they are these days, but that’s George. History books, as every day goes by you know, will report him in a more positive way.”
In addition to Bush’s children — George W. Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch — and grandchildren, the invitation-only ceremony will be attended by hosts of political leaders and foreign diplomats and heads of state.
Current and former U.S. presidents will include President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump; former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama; former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and former President Jimmy Carter. Children of previous presidents include Chelsea Clinton, Susan Ford Bales, Tricia Nixon Cox, Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb.
Foreign dignitaries in attendance will be British Prince Charles; Jordanian Kin Abdullah II and Queen Rania; Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove and Lynne Cosgrove; Polish President Andrzej Duda; former Polish President Lech Walesa; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; former Mexican President Carlos Salinas; former British Prime Minister John Major and Norma Major; Bahraini Prince Abdulla bin Hamad al-Khalifa; former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda; former Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani; former Portuguese President Anibal Vaco Silva; former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves; former Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasser al-Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah; and former Bermudan Prime Minister John Swan.
At the conclusion of the memorial around 12:30 p.m., a motorcade is scheduled to take the casket to Joint Base Andrews from where a flight will depart to Houston. There will be a ceremony Wednesday evening at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston and a funeral service there Thursday.
Bush will be interred Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Stations, Texas, along with Barbara Bush and the couple’s late daughter, Robin Bush.
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