Losing Our Forty-First President

With the recent passing of George H.W. Bush on November 30, 2018, the United States lost its forty-first president. Not only was Bush an excellent countryman, but his professional career and achievements also rival those of legend. At the ripe old age of 94, Bush passed shortly after his wife, Barbara Bush, who also passed in 2018. Both of his children have also followed in his footsteps, with George and Jeb Bush both running for president and the former serving two terms shortly after his father.

George H.W. Bush’s funeral was elaborate and staged in three parts. Although much of the fanfare surrounding many previous presidents’ deaths was absent, including the traditional performance of “Hail to the Chief,” Bush’s funeral was still a spectacle to behold. Leaving behind meticulous instructions for his state funeral, the first stage was comprised of an aerial flyover by the United States Air Force in Missing Man formation. His body was then lifted in by air and carried to the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Stage two consisted of Bush’s remains traveling to Washington D.C. where he was given a 21 gun salute and the United States Air Force Band performed “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” His body remained in the Capitol Hill rotunda from December 3 to the morning of December 5. It was here that numerous tributes were given and many from across the country traveled to the nation’s capital to pay their respects. Finally, the last stage occurred in Bush’s home state of Texas where the church service and his final burial were the main events.

Beyond the physical funeral, the funeral served to unify both the Republican party and the nation as a whole, even if for a brief period. Important dignitaries that attended included current president Donald Trump as well as former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Their wives also attended with them being influential figures in their own right. The emotional eulogy given by Bush’s son, George W. Bush, reached YouTube’s number one trending spot and touched the hearts of millions. Not only was the former president speaking for the nation, but also as a son grieving for his father. The splintered Republican party came together to mourn the death of their fallen leader and were able to get over their differences for the time being. It truly was a spectacle to behold.