6 memorable moments from George H.W. Bush's state funeral
By J.M. Rieger
Dec 05, 2018 | 7:11 PM
The emotional state funeral of former President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday was marked by tributes, laughter and celebrations of the 41st president.
There were a few moments from both the pulpit and the pews that stood out. Here they are:
1. George W. Bush's eulogy
The former president gave an emotional (and historic) eulogy of the former president, breaking down only once at the end.
"The best father a son or daughter could have," Bush said. "And in our grief, let us smile, knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again."
2. The tribute to Bush's military service
The death of former President Bush, the last U.S. president to serve in combat, follows a decadeslong trend of declining numbers of veterans serving as president and in Congress, something presidential historian Jon Meacham noted on Wednesday.
"George Herbert Walker Bush was American's last great soldier-statesman, a 20th century Founding Father," Meacham said.
3. The subtle calls for bipartisanship and civility
Arizona Sen. John McCain's state funeral was notable in part for the overt rebukes of President Donald Trump, with calls for bipartisanship and civility. With Trump in attendance on Wednesday, those calls for bipartisanship and civility continued, albeit subdued.
"His life code, as he said, was: Tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course," Meacham said. "And that was and is the most American of creeds."
"In victory, he shared credit. When he lost, he shouldered the blame," the younger former president Bush said. "He accepted that failure is a part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure."
"He never hated anyone," former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., said. "He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it's carried in."
While the tributes this week to Bush have highlighted his character and kindness, the news cycle under Trump often returns to whether remarks by public officials are coded anti-Trump sentiments.
4. Simpson goes over his allotted time (barely)
The former senator opened on a lighter note on Wednesday, after telling The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty he had cried while writing Bush's eulogy.
"Relax, George told me I only had 10 minutes," Simpson said. "He was very direct about it; it wasn't even funny."
Simpson barely missed the mark: His eulogy ran just over 11 minutes.
5. George W. Bush, Michelle Obama and the mints, part II
When the former president handed the former first lady a cough drop at McCain's funeral, it instantly became a viral bipartisan moment in an age of increasing partisan tensions.
"He's my partner in crime at every major thing where all the 'formers' gather," Obama told NBC News in October.
Apparently the Bush-Obama candy relationship is still going strong: He handed her a mint or candy on Wednesday.
6. President Donald Trump's entrance
Trump was not invited to McCain's funeral, in part due to their difficult relationship. So it was notable when Trump, who only months prior had mocked Bush's "thousand points of light" volunteer effort, was invited by the Bushes to Wednesday's ceremony. Trump has reciprocated this week, paying respects to Bush on Twitter, in person at the Capitol and through other gestures.
But also notable was the response Trump received from those seated in his pew: After Trump shook the hands of both Obamas, neither the Clintons nor the Carters appeared to make eye contact with the president (first lady Melania Trump got a nod from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton).