HOUSTON – George Herbert Walker Bush was buried on Thursday under the rich land of Texas, where he arrived 70 years ago as a young New Englander seeking a new life and eventually reaching the peak of American political power.
After an official funeral in Washington on Wednesday and a popular ceremony in Houston on Thursday, the body of the 41st president was taken by train to his presidential library at College Station, where he was buried on a cool, rainy afternoon.
The Texans moved along the road, traveling through the towns of Spring, Pinehurst, Magnolia and Navasota, paying homage to Bush, whose casket was placed in a glass tile car pulled by the Union Pacific locomotive. 4141, painted in the sky blue and the white of Air Force One.
For nearly three hours, crowds waved American and Texan flags, put their hands on their hearts, saluted and took photographs and videos, while fire trucks hoisted large flags on bridges overhead. above railroad tracks.
"He served his country in the army and led an honorable life," said Laurie Gavik, a school nurse married to a navy and having a son in the Navy and another in a camp. 39; drive. She joined a crowd under a light drizzle outside the bar and the Track Shack Express restaurant to pay homage to a "noble man" on the passing train.
"He was the last president to sit," Gavik said. "I think it's the last of its kind in many ways, that's for sure."
Late in the afternoon at the Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A & M University, under the supervision of Bush's family, his son former President George W. Bush, his coffin was lowered into the ground alongside his wife, 73 years old. Barbara Bush, who died in April, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.
Thursday's religious service in Houston was a national mediation session at Wednesday's mass and official funeral in Washington, reflecting Bush's merged identity on the east coast of his birth and the Texas oil fields of his choice.
Unlike Wednesday, when President Trump and the four former US presidents alive were in first place, the only former president in office on Thursday was George W. Bush, sitting a few steps from his father's coffin near the door. altar where the old Bush had worshiped for half a century.
While tenor Ronan Tynan moved Wednesday with his mighty Irish pipe into the cavernous Washington National Cathedral, the Oak Ridge Boys moved the more intimate sanctuary of St. Martin's with their rich Tennessee a cappella harmonies on "Amazing Grace".
Country superstar Reba McEntire, who, like the Oak Ridge Boys, was an intimate friend of the 41st President, sang a moving version of the Lord's Prayer, accompanied by a piano. The 1,000 guests – including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – applauded the performances.
Several granddaughters of Bush gave quiet and clear readings, as well as magnificent interpretations of patriotic and inspiring music: "The Stars and Stripes", "America the Beautiful", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "Forward, Soldiers Christians. "
It was a very personal tribute to a man whom Reverend Russell Levenson, who was with Bush at his death and Barbara Bush at his death in April, simply described as "a man we all loved".
"We are here today in the house of the Lord to say goodbye to a man of great faith, great integrity and great beauty," said the Minister. Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, one of Bush's closest friends, who said: was with him, holding his hand and massaging his feet, in the moments leading up to his dead last Friday.
Baker spoke of Bush's "noble character, his life of service, and the sweet memories he leaves to his friends, family, and grateful nation."
At the end of his remarks, Baker choked with emotion by paraphrasing the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, stating, "Our glory, George, was to have you as president and as such friend."
On Wednesday in Washington, George W. Bush delivered a laudatory speech on behalf of a family he now leads as a patriarch. Thursday, Texas, the duty of praise was given to George Prescott Bush, 42, the eldest grandson of the late president, who represents the next generation of the Bush political dynasty.
It began in the 1950s, with US Senator Prescott Bush, and then with his son, the deceased president, and then two of his grandchildren, President George W. Bush and the former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, and now his great-grandson.
George P. Bush, son of Jeb, was born in Texas and grew up mainly in Florida, but earned his undergraduate degree and law degree from Texas universities. He built a successful career in real estate and investment in oil and gas and was elected Texas Land Commissioner, who will take office in 2015.
Out of 17 Bush's grandchildren, he is the only one to hold public office.
Although 88-year-old Baker talks about his longstanding friendship and political association with Bush, the youngest George Bush left it to talk about the grandfather he knew as " Gampy ".
He recounted how his grandfather enjoyed spending time with his family: catching blue fish, throwing horseshoes, eating barbecues, tacos and tamales, and motivating his young grandchildren to go to bed each night. offering them the coveted "first sleep" award. "
But he said that he had inserted his creed of "duty, honor, country" in all of them.
"He left a simple but profound legacy to his children, his grandchildren and this country: service," said George P. Bush.
"George Herbert Walker Bush is the kindest, most honest and humble man I know," he said. "It's the honor of my life to share his name."
Kuzydym is a freelance journalist based in Texas. Hoffman, an independent journalist, was reported in Spring, Texas, and Sullivan, Washington. Brittney Martin at College Station, Texas, and Mark Berman and Lindsey Bever in Washington contributed to this report.