Washington: Commencing former United States President George H. W. Bush’s funeral proceedings, the 41st President’s body was on Monday brought to the US Capitol in Washington D. C., where he will lie in state until Wednesday.
Bush’s body was brought to the US capital aboard the Air Force One, nicknamed ‘Special Air Mission 41’ in his honour, following a 21-gun salute in Texas, CNN reported.
In the Capitol Rotunda, House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy started the ceremony with a prayer commemorating the former President’s service in the Army, Congress and the White House.
Speaking on the occasion, House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute by lauding Bush’s “steady hand”, keeping the US on course for decades.
“Through the Cold War and the Soviet Union’s collapse, he kept us on course. When the rule of law needed defending in the Persian Gulf, he kept us on course. With his even temperament and hard-won expertise, George Herbert Walker Bush steered this country as straight as he steered that airplane. He kept us flying high and challenged us to fly higher still. And he did it with modesty and kindness that would have been surprising in someone one-tenth as tough and accomplished as he was,” McConnell said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Bush, apart from being a good leader, was a good father, husband, and displayed “the finest qualities of our nation and of humankind”.
“He reached the heights of power with uncommon humility. He made monumental contributions to freedom with a fundamental decency that resonates across generations. No one better harmonized the joy of life and the duty of life… God bless the 41st president of the United States,” Ryan said.
Vice President Mike Pence recalled Bush’s time in the Army and his rise in politics, highlighting virtues such as kindness and modesty that stayed with him throughout.
“There was a kindness about the man that was evident to everyone who ever met him. All his years in public service were characterized by kindness, modesty and patriotism,” Pence said.
Pence further recalled the signed picture and note that Bush had gifted him when his son, who is a marine aviator, completed his first tailed hook landing on the USSR George Herbert Walker Bush.
Following the conclusion of the memorial service, a number of Supreme Court Justices, including Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, among others, paid their tributes to the former President.
President Donald Trump, along with First Lady Melania will visit the Capitol building later tonight to pay their respects. They will also visit the Bush family at the Blair House, the President’s guest house located across the street from the White House on Tuesday.
Another memorial service will be held on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington D. C., where friends and family are expected to be in attendance. Trump has declared Wednesday as a national day of mourning.
Bush’s body will then be taken to the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Thursday, where Bush earlier lived. Another memorial will be held on Thursday at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
The 41st President, who died on Friday aged 94, will then be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.