tv Jon Meacham Remarks at President George H.W. Bush - Washington Funeral CSPAN December 5, 2018 6:51pm-7:05pm EST
president bush, on its way from the ellington field airport in houston to st. martin's episcopal church. we expected that arrival within arrived and when they we will have live coverage of the arrival ceremony where president george h.w. bush will lie in repose overnight before the final ceremony tomorrow morning. coverage continuing right here on c-span. earlier today, at the national cathedral, historian and biographer john meacham offered his eulogy to the former president. >> the story was almost over even before it had fully begun. on saturday, dawn september 2, 1944, lieutenant george herbert walker bush, joined by crewmates, took off ere to attack a radio
tower. as they approached the target, theair was heavy, plane was head. smoke filled the cockpit, flames raced across the wings. thought,ieutenant bush this thing is going to go down. a 35 degreeplane in dive, dropped his bonds, and roared off out to sea, telling his crewmates to hit the silk. protocol, lieutenant bush turned the plane so they can bailout. only then did bush parachute from the cockpit. the wind propelled him backward. he gashed his head on the tail of the plane. he plunged deep into the ocean,
came to the surface, and flopped onto a tiny raft. his head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from saltwater. the future 41st president of the united states was alone. sensing his men had not made it, he was overcome. he felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden. and he wept. then, four minutes shy of new, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot. george herbert walker bush was safe. ours,ory, is story, and would go on, by god's grace.
through the ensuing decades, president bush would ask nearly daily, he would ask himself, why me? why was i spared? lifesense, the rest of his was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that morning. to him, his life was no longer his own. there were always more missions to undertake, more lives to touch, and more love to give. when they had long grace he made of it all -- what a headlong race he made of it all. on the primary campaign trail in new hampshire, he grabbed the hand of a department store mannequin asking for votes. [laughter]
when he realized his mistake, he said, you never know. gotta ask. [laughter] you can hear the voice, can't you? as dana carvey said, the key to a bush 41 impersonation is mr. rogers trying to be john wayne. [laughter] george herbert walker bush was america's last great soldier statesman. a 20th century founding father. he governed with virtues that resemble those of washington and truman, eisenhower. of men who believed in causes larger than themselves.
6'2", handsome, dominant in person, president bush made fists to underscore points. a master of what franklin roosevelt called the science of human relationships, he believed that to whom much was given, much is expected. because life gave him so much, he gave back again and again and again. he stood in the breach in the cold war against totalitarianism. he stood in the breach in washington against unthinking partisanship. he stood in the breach against discrimination and on his watch a wall fell in berlin. a dictator's aggression did not stand. doors across america opened to those with disabilities.
life, he stood in the breach against heart break and hurt. always offering an outstretched hand, a warm word, a sympathetic tear. down, he would rush to lift you up. if you are soaring, he would rush to savor your success. gracious, comforting and charming, loving and loyal, he was our shield in danger's hour. of course there was ambition, loads of that. succeed, to had to preside, he had to prevail. he admitted, is not a
pure undertaking. not if you want to win. an imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union. it must be said for a keenly intelligent statesman of stirring, almost unparalleled private elegance, public speaking was not exactly a strong suit. fluency in english, president bush once remarked is something , i am often not accuse of. [laughter] looking ahead to the 1988 inarion, he observed, guably, it was no exaggeration to say it decided to go one way or the other. [laughter] late in his presidency he allowed that, we are enjoying sluggish times but not enjoying
them very much. [laughter] his tongue may have run amok at moments. but his heart was steadfast. his life code as he said, was tell the truth, do not blame people. be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course. that was and is the most american of creeds. abraham lincoln and george h.w. bush's thousands points of light our companion versus in america's national hymn. lincoln and bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient.
to hope rather than the fear, and he'd not are worse impulses but our best instinct. in his work, he had the most wonderful of allies in arbor his wife of 73 years. -- barbara bush his wife of 73 , years. he called her barb, and when it called for it, the enforcer. he was the only boy she ever kissed. her children always wanted to throw up when they heard that. [laughter] a letter to barbara durin the war, young george h.w. bush said i love you with all my heart and to know you love me means my life. how lucky our children will be to have a mother like you. as they will tell you, they surely were.
as vice president, bush once visited a children's leukemia ward. 35 years before he and barbara had lost a daughter, robin, to the disease. in krakow, a young boy wanted to meet the american vice president. learning the child was sick with the cancer that had taken robin, bush began to cry. to his diary, later that day, the vice president said this, my eyes flooded with tears and behind me was a bank of television cameras. i thought i cannot turn around, i cannot dissolve because of personal tragedy in the face of nurses that give of themselves every day. so i stood there looking at this
little guy, tears running down my cheek, hoping he would not see, but if he did, hoping he would feel that i loved him. that was the real george h.w. bush. a loving man with a big, vibrant, all enveloping heart. so we asked as we commend his soul to god, and as he did, why him? why was he spared? the workings of providence are mysterious. this much is clear. the george herbert walker bush who survived that fiery fall into the pacific made our lives
and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer, and nobler. that was his mission. that was his heartbeat. if we listen closely enough, we can hear that heartbeat even now. for it is a heartbeat of a lion, a lion who not only led us, but who loved us. that is why him. that is why he was spared. announcer: a live look at saint martin's of the scoble church in texas. you can see the stained-glass windows there.