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Sunday 15 September 2019

Donald Trump salutes George HW Bush’s casket at Washington ceremony

The 41st president of the United States will lie in state in the Capitol for three days of mourning.

President Donald Trump salutes as he and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to George HW Bush (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)
President Donald Trump salutes as he and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to George HW Bush (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have travelled to the US Capitol in Washington to pay their respects to former president George HW Bush.

The remains of the 41st president of the United States took their place in the Capitol Rotunda for three days of mourning and praise by the political elite and everyday citizens alike.

With Mr Bush’s casket on top of the Lincoln Catafalque, first used for Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 funeral, dignitaries came forward to honour the Texan whose efforts for his country extended three quarters of a century from the Second World War to his final years as an advocate for volunteerism and relief for people displaced by natural disaster.

President from 1989 to 1993, Mr Bush died on Friday at the age of 94.

President Donald Trump salutes alongside first lady Melania Trump in front of the flag-draped casket of former President George HW Bush (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/AP)

In an invocation opening the ceremony, the US House chaplain, the reverend Patrick J Conroy, praised Mr Bush’s commitment to public service, from Navy pilot to congressman, UN ambassador, envoy to China and then CIA director before being elected vice president and then president.

“Here lies a great man,” said House speaker Paul Ryan and “a gentle soul. … His legacy is grace perfected”.

Vice president Mike Pence and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell also spoke.

Former US president George HW Bush lies in state (Pool photo by Morry Gash via AP)

Mr Trump did not attend, but he and the first lady came to the Capitol later on Monday to pay tribute.

They stood in front of the casket with their eyes closed for a few moments, before Mr Trump saluted the casket.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have a moment of silence (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

Political combatants set aside their fights to honour a Republican who led in a less toxic time and at times found commonality with Democrats despite sharp policy disagreements.

Past and incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, exchanged a warm hug with former president George W Bush and came away dabbing her face. Mr Bush himself seemed to be holding back tears.

Ms Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, placed wreaths in the short ceremony before the rotunda was to be opened to the public. It was to remain open overnight.

Sent off from Texas with a 21-gun salute, Mr Bush’s casket was carried to Joint Base Andrews outside the capital city aboard an aircraft that often serves as Air Force One and designated “Special Air Mission 41” in honour of Mr Bush’s place on the chronological list of presidents.

Cannon roared again outside as the sun sank and his eldest son, George W Bush, stood with his hand over his heart, watching the casket’s procession up the steps.

George W Bush watch as members of a military honour guard carry his father into the Capitol (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

Mr Bush was remembered just feet away from what he called “Democracy’s front porch”, the west-facing steps of the Capitol where he was sworn in as president.

He will lie in state in the Capitol for public visitation until Wednesday. An invitation-only funeral service is set for Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are to attend.

Although Mr Bush’s funeral services are suffused with the flourishes accorded presidents, by his choice they will not include a formal funeral procession through Washington.

PA Media

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