Americans Say Their Final Goodbye To President George H.W. Bush

Dec 6, 2018
Originally published on December 6, 2018 7:05 pm
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Former President George H.W. Bush has reached his final resting place on the ground of the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The ceremony concluded a final day of services that allowed Houston residents to pay their respects to one of their own. Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider reports.

ANDREW SCHNEIDER, BYLINE: People began lining up yesterday morning long before Bush's body was flown back to Houston from Washington, D.C. Nearly 12,000 passed through St. Martin's Episcopal Church where Bush lay in repose.

DENTON RAGLAND: My father was in naval aviation as well, about a year behind him. And I got way more emotional than I ever thought.

SCHNEIDER: Denton Ragland was a volunteer on Bush's 1988 presidential campaign.

RAGLAND: He's just a bigger-than-life person who would deny that I think and say he was just an average guy, which of course he wasn't. But he's the - great example of what we should all strive for.

SCHNEIDER: Lynne Campbell Bonham attended St. Martin's with the Bushes for decades. She taught Sunday school alongside them during their early years in Houston.

LYNNE CAMPBELL BONHAM: He was such a wonderful, real soul. And he had a very deep faith in Christianity, Episcopalianism (ph). And he was a very special man, as was Barbara.

SCHNEIDER: In the funeral service at St. Martin's, James Baker, Bush's secretary of state, paid tribute to his friend of more than 60 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES BAKER: For millions and millions across the globe, the world became a better place because George Bush occupied the White House for four years. He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent.

SCHNEIDER: Baker praised Bush's leadership in the Gulf War, his success in bringing the Cold War to an end and his signing of two nuclear arms reduction treaties. Bush's oldest grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, spoke next of the man he always knew as Gampy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE P BUSH: Having flown 58 combat missions in the Pacific and having been shot down and rescued at sea, he never saw his own heroism as being any greater than anyone else that has worn the uniform. I know this because I've experienced it personally. He was proud when Walker joined the Marine Corps, when I joined the Navy and even prouder when we served overseas. Our service never compared to his, yet we could never convince him of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OAK RIDGE BOYS: (Singing) Amazing grace, how...

SCHNEIDER: Bush was a longtime fan of the Oak Ridge Boys. They sang "Amazing Grace," fulfilling a pledge to the late president. Following the service, a special train carried Bush's remains to College Station as thousands of people lined the route to wave goodbye. George Herbert Walker Bush is being buried on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University beside his wife, Barbara, and his daughter Robin. For NPR News, I'm Andrew Schneider in Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OAK RIDGE BOYS: (Singing) I see was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.