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George H.W. Bush's funeral: Family, friends say goodbye to 41st president

The funeral follows the former president lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda

A U.S. military honor guard carries the flag-draped casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush down the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The late Bush will be laid to rest Thursday at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former President George H.W. Bush's coffin was held Wednesday in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

On Tuesday, the former president had lain in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. This honor is reserved for only a small handful of American citizens. According to the Architect of the Capitol, only 10 other presidents have ever received this honor to date: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, Taft, Kennedy, Eisenhower, L.B.J, Ford, and Reagan.

Here's what you need to know

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan and Christian music artist Michael W. Smith sang during the funeral. Tynan also sang for the former president just hours before his death.

Speakers included presidential biographer Jon Meacham, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). Simpson's father had also been a senator, and had sold the Simpson family's Washington, D.C., home to George H. W. Bush's father, Prescott Bush (who had himself been retiring as a senator from Connecticut) in the 1960s. Simpson said that this was the first time he had met H.W. Bush, and that the two had been friends ever since.

Giving the eulogy, former President George W. Bush talked about the love between his parents, and his father's love of jokes. He recounted the moment he found out that his father only had minutes to live, when he was told that the 41st president could hear him, but likely could not respond.

“I said, 'Dad, I love you. You've been a wonderful father,' " Bush recalled. “and the last words he ever said were 'I love you too.'"

George W. Bush jokingly said that he realized his father wasn't perfect because his golf short game was terrible, he was “not exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor" and "the man couldn't stomach vegetables, especially broccoli." The older Bush had famously disliked broccoli, even going so far as to ban the vegetable from ever being served aboard Air Force One.

He also spoke with respect for the way his father had led the country during his presidency.

“When the history books are written," he said, “they will say that George H. W. Bush was a great President of the United States."

At the end of the speech, George W. Bush teared up as he told those gathered in the National Cathedral that now his parents could be with each other again. Former first lady Barbara Bush passed away in April. “In our grief, by this smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin, and holding mom's hand again.” George W.'s sister Robin had died of leukemia when she was only three-years-old.


What else?

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were in attendance, as were all the living former presidents and first ladies: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. George W. and Laura Bush sat with the Bush family.

Following the funeral, the body of former President George H.W. Bush will be flown to his home state of Texas.

One last thing…
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