tv Today NBC December 5, 2018 7:00am-9:01am PST
funeral of george h.w. bush is coming up next. we're going to have live continuing coverage starting at 7:00 a.m. don't forget. the services start at 8:00 this morning. coverage starts right now with nbc's live coverage. good morning, everybody. if you are just joining us, it's 10:00 a.m. in the east. this is a shot of the united states capitol. at this hour the casket of george h.w. bush will come here to the national cathedral as the nation bids farewell to the president. packed room full of official washington past and present. every living former president will be in attendance. he will be eulogized by another former president, his own son. we see members of the military
here to celebrate and honor the life of former president george h.w. bush. we see right there vice president governor and who -- >> there are four of them. all in a row. all our vice presidents. >> there's probably a vice presidential seating chart. >> they must be in one box. >> at the last official vice president meeting there weren't cameras. >> we talk about the presidents' club but there's also a vice presidents' club. >> we saw the bush family depart blair house a few minutes ago. that's the motorcade taking them to the capitol. >> we saw jared kushner there. let's go right to peter alexander who is with us watching these arrivals. peter, good morning. >> reporter: good morning. as we see the president's daughter and son-in-law there as
well as his press secretary and so many of those advisers. i'm struck by some of the conversations i've had with members of the bush family in recent days how moved they have been by the graciousness of president trump in these recent days not just declaring this a national day of mourning ordering that flags fly at half-staff for 30 days to honor the life of 41. but beyond that, the president invited them to use the blair house, the official presidential guest house. laura bush was invited and members of the bush family as they were stuck across the street, why don't you come over and have a chance to see the christmas decorations with some of the young children in your family. and the family had time to explore in private. she wasn't with them for the entirety of the time. they took a wonderful photo underneath a photo of george h.w. bush that is inside the white house, inside the residence there. but that is what has been
striking for some. remember, it was only a matter months ago we saw what people saw as a rebuke of donald trump that celebrated the life of john mccain. we asked neil bush about that. he said this is not about donald trump. this is about my father. i hope today celebrates his life and helps restore the order of civility that my father stood for and was so proud of. >> we're seeing nikki haley there. sarah huckabee sanders. it does seem as though all of washington has taken a moment to pause and reflect and honor the life and legacy of our former president, george h.w. bush who served one term who his chief of staff and his biographer say he'll be the most successful one-term president.
in some ways it feels like an asterisk, one term, but there will be successes that will be remarked upon. >> you can also say that as you see the motorcade is about to go towards -- or arrive at the capitol. he was the most prepared of any of our modern presidents having been an ambassador to china, cia director, vice president, and one of the memorials you won't see unless we get a picture of it, i was told by a former cia official that he went over to langley the other day on other business and there in the lobby and we've seen that lobby with the seal on the wall, the 128 stars of those whom they've lost, his portrait is brought front and center on the seal and people have been laying flowers there in the lobby of the george h.w. bush cia building named for him. >> the family went over to langley yesterday to pay homage
to that part of his life. >> he is adored there. >> your point is well taken. there may not have been a more prepared or well qualified president in terms of the roles that he held. as we continue to look inside there. we want to turn our attention back to the capitol. hallie jackson is there. the bush family should be arriving momentarily and you see the honor guards, the soldiers and airmen and marines and sailors, coast guardsmen now taking their place to escort the casket to the hearse and to the cathedral. there is president jimmy carter. >> 94 years old, lester. survivor of brain cancer. >> not only that, looks healthier now than when he started fighting the brain cancer. he's had a remarkable recovery. >> he delivers his sermon in church every sunday. i used to be the pool reporter
to go in on those sunday sermons and have to come out and describe them. >> i'm sure you learned a lot as well. >> i got my religion from jimmy carter. >> i interviewed him a couple times post-presidency. an entertaining guy. he loves to talk and tells stories and loves to be challenged. >> one of my favorite of his books is his presidential diaries. he takes time to note his successors didn't always treat him the way he thought he should be treated. except for one. george h.w. bush. whenever former president carter wanted a briefing, things like this, h.w. bush always made sure that president carter got what he wanted in ways that other presidents apparently didn't. >> there was tension between carter and bill clinton. bill clinton who lost one election in his re-election to the governorship in 1980 blamed
it on jimmy carter and his policies. >> it's good to see jimmy carter. >> we talk about the greatest generation and sometimes we conflate world war ii with that. he was not a world war ii veteran. >> he was a submariner. >> during post-world war ii but also no small feat by that man in nuclear engineer. >> we continue to train our cameras on the inside of national cathedral. the services expected to begin in less than an hour now. we were speaking of the former president. there he is with the former first lady. expected to last a few hours. there are several readings. readings that some of the president bush's grandchildren will deliver today. and, of course, it bears remembering as we think about the personal toll that it was seven months ago that they were at another funeral, the
matriarch of this family, barbara bush, not far from their minds at this time. the family has talked a lot about the notion that george bush wanted to be reunited with his bride. he's a man of faith. not showy faith but a man of gra great devotion and belief. he thought a lot about heaven and what the after life might be. he clearly hoped to be reunited. >> that interview that jenna did with him when he talks about robin, obviously the daughter they lost to leukemia, that's what he's thinking about as he's going there. a lot of people take comfort in that. >> they do. they take comfort in the fact that the life was so well lived but i also know that as humble as george bush was and you were saying that he might have been a little sheepish about all this fuss, i think the family feels
grateful that the country really seems to be reaching out and respecting and honoring this memory. >> let's go to the capitol where hallie jackson is standing by right now as our attention begins to turn there with the arrival of family. hallie? >> reporter: lester, people are getting into position here to begin the ceremony at the capitol. that portion of today as the motorcade is set to arrive in just a little bit. you can see the remarkable shot of the east front of the u.s. capitol. the honor guard has taken their positions lining the stairs. we expect to see the family members come and join as they make their way down pennsylvania avenue there in that motorcade traveling really slowly so that people who have lined pennsylvania avenue get a chance to see and pay their respects to the bush family. i will tell you that from my vantage point i can see dozens if not hundreds of staff members who work here at the capitol who have come out to be able to watch this in person. security is, of course, incredibly tight here so just
staff members have been allowed through at this point in addition to family members. you can see the shot of the honor guard lining the steps. we expect to see the casket, the flag draped cassette of president bush brought down those stairs and there will be a short ceremony here. you will see that 21 gun salute and those service members who will perform that are positioned here as well. we're looking here outside of the u.s. capitol and also looking inside the national cathedral as you look at the hearse that will carry the body. you look at jimmy carter. i was in atlanta for that news conference after he announced he fought through cancer. the former president was wearing blue jeans. wasn't that a humble moment and so fitting for jimmy carter and something he does have in common with president george h.w. bush. the idea of not being in the trappings of the presidency. you can see there are a number of top white house officials
that have made the trip to the national cathedral. this is different than what we saw the last time that we gathered here to pay respects to somebody. senator john mccain when he passed away. very few people represented the administration. we've seen top members of the white house who have come to pay their respects. look at this shot. mitch mcconnell, chuck schumer, nancy pelosi. we knew they would be out here. both parties. the leadership in both parties. we talk about bipartisanship but this is the ultimate display of it as they have arrived out here to pay their respects. you can house speaker paul ryan with his wife. it is symbolic and important for these leaders to come out and pay their respects. for this moment for this day on this national day of mourning, parties and partisanship has
been put aside and what a display that was there, lester. >> we hear a lot at times like this that it's nice to see you. i wish the circumstances were different. but there is a quiet in the city. it's not just because it's an official day of mourning. the fact that politics has taken a move. there's prince charles. >> we see the back of his head. he's representing her majesty the queen. he was not the only foreign dignitary who is here today. the king and queen of jordan also expected to attend. we had a shot at constitution avenue a few moments ago. you could see so many people pouring out onto the streets, well wishers, who want to just hold a sign, catch a glimpse to share their respect and affection for the former president as he makes this journey a little later this morning from the united states capitol across official washington up here to northwest washington to the cathedral which has held so many memorial
services for past presidents and this is a storied place. >> ronald reagan, gerald ford, john mccain. not a state funeral. >> the 9/11 memorial service was here. >> i was there for that. that was the most extraordinary service and fulmer of tribute to george w. bush. >> you talk about a country that was united. >> and so needed to be. to have that moment. >> the service that he organized with the rabbi, all of the religious leaders and it was an enormous privilege to have been one of the people here for that. >> just a few days after 9/11. we remember it well. >> this truly is america's cathedral. it is where we do these things. it is where we gather and we do this and it does feel like --
i'll be honest, when i drive by here, you do feel the history. >> i think we're seeing an image from that morning just a few days after 9/11 when president bush brought together clergy from all faiths in a moment and prayer service of national unity in those terrifying days after 9/11 when it felt like everything changed. >> president george w. bush said recently in an interview that it meant so much to him when his father reached over and took his hand. you see that image right there. it was so reassuring for a former commander in chief to hold the hand of his son, the current commander in chief in the time of the greatest trial. more people died than at pearl harbor. >> it speaks also to the kind of family that the bushes are because they are a big boisterous family but they're
not a stiff upper lip kind of family. they joke about how quickly they are all moved to tears. >> i love where the elder bush grabs his hand. that's a father/son. that's not a politics thing. that's what you do when you're proud of your kid. >> for all the talk about their division over the iraq war, president bush 41 always said that he never had a harsh word about that. that was all, you know, inferred and surmised by those of us in the media and political talk. but that he would never have challenged his son's decisions. >> i think the thing that i'm most grateful to the bush family is how much they're aware that they're role models. they are aware that they know their actions in public are to be modeled and they are going to be modeled whether positive or negative. they always went out of their way to realize and put out a positive feel. there was nothing wrong with
having any of those people to be a role model for your kid. that's something that you always appreciate. they have a sense of value. >> another thing that people have been remarking upon is that in all of their post-presidencies, there have been these wonderful friendships that seem to have risen up and out of washington and without regard to politics. you see the obamas and bushes are friends now. >> michelle and w. in that bond. >> they have a bond. and then bill clinton and bush 41 became so close that barbara bush started saying that clinton was like another member of the family. the father that bill clinton never quite had and it's incredible to see how these families have all kind of embraced each other because there is this common bond. >> the so-called presidents' club but it extends to the first families as well. one thing that is not often remarked is laura bush's extraordinary contribution to
literacy but she created the first co-ed school in afghanistan and still in post-presidency worked there with karen hughes and others from the foreign policy team. she did enormous good as did george w. bush with resolving -- trying to resolve the aids issue in africa which bono celebrated bush 43 for. >> this is the west front of the united states capitol where we inaugurate our presidents and today this is where we will say good-bye to a president. we saw a few moments ago how the members of the congress, both houses of the congress are assembled there in line waiting to pay their respects. >> you take that final trek as an outgoing president. you stake that final trek down those steps. you get on "marine one" as you're escorted off and now
he'll take his final walk down those steps. >> there's also a funeral service planned for houston, which of course is his hometown and his home church will honor him as well and neil bush will eulogize him. george p. bush, his grandson. so he will eulogize along with james baker who is a close family friend and was at president bush's bedside on friday night when he passed. >> jim baker, a friend of 60 years, and jim baker has said in recent days that he doesn't think he would have survived the loss of his first wife to cancer when he was a young man. he had four toddlers if not for his friend, george bush, who said why don't you run my campaign. his tennis partner. doubles partner. so began a great friendship.
>> the bush offspring now taking their place outside the capitol. >> angela merkel is here. she went by blair house earlier to pay respects. she rarely speaks english to any press corps. she spoke english at the g-20. >> she was a little girl in east germany before the fall of the berlin wall. >> this is personal in ways in ways we can't appreciate as americans. >> so we have two scenes this morning we're watching. one on your screen right now inside national cathedral where dignitaries of every era and every walk of life are assembled to pay honor to our former president and on capitol hill for the last 30 plus hours or so president bush has been lying in state and upwards of 60,000
people have come in and filed past the casket pausing, reflecting, saying thank you or a prayer including last night members of the family who came over. >> here is president bush 43, laura bush, neil bush, the entire family now gathered. >> dorothy bush. and their spouses. >> the man you've been seeing the military officer you have been seeing with president bush 43 is major general michael howard. he is the official escort for bush 41. he commands the joint force headquarters of the u.s. military district of washington. that was formed in world war ii to defend washington from attack and invaders. he has taken on the ceremonial role and does planning and execution of state funerals and
moments like this. so we hear a lot about term military precision. we've seen a lot of it. >> i was talking to the secret service this morning and this is considered a major national event and they had all of four days to plan for it. it's a big security operation. >> i think this moment is about to unfold.
>> the hearse carrying president bush about to leave the capitol and make its way to the cathedral. trump has departed the white house. >> there they are departing from the west wing of the white house and the residence there. also former president obama and mrs. obama are inside the cathedr cathedral. we've seen images of them.
the clint ons are here as well. bill and hillary clinton. we have three of five living presidents here. we see some of those embraces. chelsea clinton there on your screen as well. we're seeing a lot of reacquainting going on here in the cathedral and lots of hugs and tears. there's former vice president dan quayle who served with president bush. >> and dick cheney. how does dan quayle fit into the equation as you look back at the bush legacy? >> he was almost dropped from the ticket although the loyalty of bush 41 rejected the advice of political advisers who thought he had become a liability. he was chosen for youth, for conservative credentials but hardly the best of the indiana senators because dick luger was the senior senator. >> i was at the convention in new orleans and the word leaked very late in the day.
>> let's just say nbc news broke it. >> i was working for cbs at the time. >> somehow andrea always remembers those things. >> because she's usually the one who broke the story. >> i remember calling tom brokaw up in the booth saying i got it. he said who? i said dan quayle. we went on the air. >> i was talking to somebody who is close to him. he sort of knows that -- whatever you want to call it. there are some who politically feel as if he wasn't as successful as he could have been. people have appreciated how he's handled his post-vice presidency. >> what an image. bystanders and people gathered at the state of the capitol. the president's casket, the hearse that will carry him from downtown washington and capitol
hill across the city one final time and to the national cathedral. we expect that to be about a 15-minute ride before we see the arrival here at the top of the hour is when this service is scheduled to begin. as we look inside the cathedral and see that those front two rows and see our former living presidents, vice presidents, cabinet members, all of whom who have come here to gather. >> you look at these pictures. you think it's a small club. i mean, in our history. only 45 people have had that responsibility, that honor, and we beat them up a little bit in life. >> one thing is notable. hillary clinton whom you just saw stand up, this will be the first time that hillary clinton and donald trump will be in the same space since the election. we know how bitter and angry it
has been and how muso i can ima that this is a moment a little bit fought but everyone will behave well because it's a funeral. >> washington is so well behaved this week. you just ask yourself if you can do it this week, why can't you do it during other weeks? >> our standards have sunk. we're happy they're not shutting down the government. that's been going on for the last couple decades. >> we're praising people for doing the things you're supposed to do in a moment like this. >> supreme court justice. >> she was not -- there she is. >> we can see the justices. >> sthe had organize arguments yesterday. this is one of the few times she's been in public. she's been at the court. she of course broke three ribs just a few weeks ago.
>> we don't see them very often together without robes. >> at their official events they don't have to think about what to wear. we were talking about former president gore who did a 24-hour climate event. was up 24 hours and flew on the red eye to be here. as i understand it has a real soft spot for president bush not least among the reasons is after he conceded in 2000 after that bitterly fought campaign against president bush, george bush's son, one of the first calls he received was from george bush 41 to say thank you for your concession and for your devotion to your country. >> by the way on issues, one of the most monumental environmental piece of legislation passed in this country was signed by president george bush. >> and the americans disability act when sully, his service dog
came, he came -- the dog was brought with other members of the american disabilities community. just a tremendous achievement done by former senator tom harkin, democratic senator from iowa at the time. >> for every american that walks into any place of public accommodation, any public place if there's an tell voige elevat there's a ramp, this is because of the american with disabilities act. >> i remember covering it. it was controversial. it's going to cost money. and now you look back and you can't believe it was that controversial. it's one of those things where we can accommodate and it turned out more than accommodate. thrive. >> what that's opened up to for a whole community of people. >> of course george bush 41 ending in a wheelchair which was very difficult for him. he was so active. we would tease him about his aerobic golf. >> a college athlete.
>> jumping out of an airplane for his 85th and 90th birthdays. when i saw him the first time in the wheelchair, he said i got the parkinson's thing and it's to my legs but the brain is still good. which indeed it was. >> this, of course, on the left side of your screen here, the processional. the hearse carrying the cassette makie i -- casket along the streets of washington being honored along the way. >> let's bring in kelly o'donnell now who is watching activities take place inside the cathedral. >> reporter: i'm struck as we watch the bush family making their way here for what will be an important part of the farewell. thinking back on times talking with president george w. bush about how he handled emotion in public. we were talking earlier this
morning, bush men cry and they're not afraid to do it. they might have either a texas exterior or a new england yankee exterior, but a friend was telling us this morning they're tear ducts are more like a sicilian grandmother and george w. bush said to me when he knew he had to speak about something that was emotional and clearly eulogizing his own father is something that will go beyond all of those dimensions, he would read it again and again and again to steal himself so the words wouldn't have the same emotional punch at the time they were delivered. that would be things for national morning not quite as close and personal as the loss of his own father. he was comfortable with the fact he would be emotional and at the same time try to avoid being sort of public about it and elder bush was comfortable with showing emotion despite that yankee exterior. i would imagine in the ride from
the u.s. capitol to here at the national cathedral, i would imagine that george w. bush is thinking through some of what he will say today to prepare himself for the emotion that will eventually come and we know that none of these former presidents have spoken with president trump until today. of course the bushes have been received in the last 24 hours or so but former president clinton, former president obama, we're told by aides that there have not been conversations so today there will be perhaps an awkward moment, perhaps a chilly moment. we'll see that unfold. but emotion will be very much a part of this day as it intersects with our public life and our national farewell to george herbert walker bush. lester? >> thank you. we're watching some of the military honor guards here. >> just behind us they clearly are expecting the casket, the
hearse carrying the casket of president bush to arrive any moment now. president trump has arrived and is about to enter into the cathedr cathedral. we're seeing more activity as that unfolds. president bush 43 said he worked on this eulogy for a long time. there was a time five years ago when they were pretty sure that president bush was going to pass away and so they had prepared then. as jim baker put it this week, he was competitive and competitive with death. he held on all these years and had five more really good, happy years. >> a great line h.w. bush had when he got out of the hospital. put the harps away. >> looks like i'm still here. by this summer with his health failing and his beloved wife having passed away, he said next time he didn't want to go to the hospital. he wanted to be at peace and at home. by all accounts he was.
it was a sweet passing surrounded by friends and family. >> let's go to peter alexander now. peter? >> reporter: we're outside the national cathedral as you just reported. president trump arrived here within the last five or six minutes and now on the front steps of the national cathedral we see the joint steechiefs of f with the military honor guard, their band playing solemn music as they briefly arrived moments ago in anticipation of this moment. i think any moment now we'll see president trump enter and have a face to face greeting with the presidents' club that he is a part of. >> peter, we should note as you can see there the motorcade, the hearse passing the white house. >> a rare time that they open up pennsylvania avenue in front of the white house. >> it was closed many years to vehicles. >> it was closed after a small plane crashed into the south grounds and they revisited the whole issue of the security of pennsylvania avenue, which was
always open, and ended up turning it into a pedestrian mall. >> on this occasion one last journey past the white house. they'll turn north in a few blocks and headed toward the cathedral. we can already see parts of the security detail and motorcade arriving at the front of the capitol and some people getting out as well. >> it's a cold, damp morning here in washington, d.c., but the city virtually standing still. hallie jackson is at the capitol where the motorcade departed from a moment ago. hallie? >> reporter: lester, you're right the city is at a standstill. just because of the motorcade in addition to president trump who has just arrived at the national cathedral so he and the first lady should be taking their seats over where you are any moment.
i will tell you that there is a solemnity here as president bush's casket came down those stairs as a man that delivered so many state of the union addresses, was inaugurated here at the capitol, served in this building as a member of congress, said good-bye to this place one last time. >> in about 15 minutes or so, this ceremony inside the national cathedral is expected to begin. now we can already hear the prelu prelude. some of the music. incredible acoustics of this storied cathedral that held so many moments of our nation's history. we await the arrival of president bush and the family members who saw him off from the c capitol a few moments ago. kristen welker is we white house. we know president butrump depard just a few moments ago. we expect him to enter the cathedral at any moment.
>> reporter: it will be remarkable. this is going to be the first time really that president trump, the 45th president, comes face to face with his predecessors since his inauguration. all of them there. he didn't attend the funeral of bush barbara bush. the first lady did. he didn't attend the funeral of john mccain. this is going to be the first time that he is going to be there with this very exclusive club and as i'm talking right now, the motorcade continues to pass the white house. this was taped just moments ago. i have to tell you it is very solemn here at the white house as we sort of hear the quiet hum of the motorcade pass. former president george h.w. bush passing by the white house one last time. the optics, the tone have been so critical throughout this week and as we have been remarking on president trump really putting
aside his past tensions with the bush family to pay homage to one of his predecessors really setting the tone with the tweet he sent out saying looking forward to being with the bush family. this is not a funeral. this is a day of a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life. savannah? >> it was president trump who declared this a national day of mourning. that is the reason that wall street is not in business today. the mail service has stopped. it's truly a pause. a pause in our nation's business and a pause for us to reflect on our shared heritage and history and we've been talking a lot about it that the city seems to be so thirsty for just a moment of coming together in unity. >> this funeral scheduled to start a little less than 15 minutes from now. 11:00 eastern time. we will hear remarks as we noted.
george w. bush will be speaking. jon meacham. president's biographer will be around the speakers. the former canadian prime minister who was a friend. their times in office overlapped will be among those speaking as well. >> we'll see some bush family members giving some readings from the scriptures. i know jenny hgenerajenna has o. barbara read one at her grandmother's service. another one of the granddaughters is planning to have a reading. >> one of the former president's friends and noted singer is going to be a member of the irish tenors will be singing here as well as michael smith. >> wasn't he with the president? >> yes. he was a good friend and came by on the last day and sang "silent night" on president bush's last
day and james baker said believe it or not, president bush was mouthing those words. he loved to sing. there's a lot of stories in these last few months about him singing. >> i was thinking about the grandkids. they didn't get to know their grandfather when he was president. this must be so heartwarming to learn about their grandfather in ways they didn't know him. >> here's president and mrs. trump now entering the sanctuary. ♪
♪ >> a nod from hillary clinton to president trump. >> a handshake from president bush -- obama and mrs. obama as well. >> only a moment like this, i think, could bring them together. >> it is what makes our country stand out. it really does. no matter how bitter it is. not many other countries around the world have their former leaders gather in one place like this. >> later today the body of former president bush will be flown for the last time from washington back to texas where he will be buried. another funeral planned for
of these days. >> one of the other singers on today's program is gospel singer michael smith. he wrote a song after the 9/11 attacks and performed it. it was called "there she stands." he performed it at the 2004 republican convention invited by president george w. bush to sing. >> it says something about the
former president that he chose a journalist to be his biographer in jon meacham. i said how did you get this gig? he said i asked. it's a great story. it didn't look like president bush was looking to settle scores. he was looking for who could tell a story. jon meacham can tell a nice story. >> he spoke at barbara bush's. he delivered the eulogy there. >> he got to know him in 1998 when they first met. he did a terrific job with it. >> these musical preludes are from the armed forces chorus. the military so beautifully represented here in every way. >> the army band is here.
the bus was out front. >> this beautiful gothic cathedral was badly damaged in the earthquake, that rare earthquake in washington a number of years ago. they've been repairing it, rebuilding it. beautiful stain glass windows. >> some of the scaffolding still up there. >> it looks like they just drove by the residence of vice presidents. he lived there for eight years in the vice president official reside resident. >> people will tell you the naval observatory is the better residence. >> i believe they've told you that off the record. >> correct. you get nice privacy.
nice big residence and no pesky press corps living with you. >> how come so many vice presidents are seeking to move to the white house. >> look at that beautiful picture. >> only the second vice president to live there. walter mondale the first. >> that's right. and dan quayle put the pool in, i believe. i think dan quayle put a pool in. >> surprised he didn't put a golf course in. >> we must be getting close because i think i hear the rumble of the motorcade as it pulls into this direction. we can actually hear the honor guard as it prepares to receive
the casket remains in the hearse. in a moment it will be carried through a military corden. the right reverend mariann edgar budde, bishop of the diocese will announce the prayer of the reception of the body. and the body will then be carried into the cathedral and positioned at the crossing. bush to be seated momentarily. actually, they are coming right behind us now. >> looks like with the former
>> with faith in jesus christ, we receive the body of our brother george for burial. let us pray with confidence to god the giver of life that he will raise him to perfection in the company of saints. deliver your servant, george, sovereign lord christ, from all evil and set him free from every bond, that he may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations where with the father, and the holy spirit, you live and reign, one god, forever and ever. >> amen. >> let us pray also for all who mourn, that they may cast their care on god and love his love. al mighty god look for pity on
>> a reading from the prophet isaiah. a arise, for darkness shall cover the earth and a thick darkness, the people's. but the lord will arise upon you and his glory will appear over you. nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. lift up your eyes and look around. they all gather together. they come to you. your sons shall come from far wei away and your daughters shall be carried on the nurses arms. then your heart shall thrill and rejoice because of the abundance of the sea shall be brought to and the wealth of the nations
shall come to you. >> violence shall no more be heard in your land. devastation or destruction within your borders. you shall call your walls salvation, and your gates praise. the sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night. but the lord will be your ever lasting light and your god will be your glory. your sun shall no more go down or your moon withdraw itself, for the lord will be your ever lasting light and your days of mourning shall be ended. the word of the lord.
shortly after dawn on saturday, september 2nd, 1944, lieutenant junior gray george herbert walker bush joined by two roommates went to attack a radio tower. as they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack. the plane was hit. smoke filled the cockpit. flames raced across the wings. my god, lieutenant bush thought, this thing is going to go down. yet he kept the plane in 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea. telling his crew mates to hit the silk. following protocol, lieutenant bush turned the plane so they could bail out. only then did bush parachute
from the cockpit. the wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane as he flew through the sky. he plunged deep into the ocean, bond to the surface and flopped on to 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 that his men had not made it, he was overcome. he felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden. and he wept. then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot. george herbert walker bush was
safe. the story, his story and ours, would go on by god's grace. through the ensuing decades, president bush would frequently ask nearly daily, heed ahe'd as himself, why me, why was i spared. and in a sense, the rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant 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.
and what aheadlong race he made of it all. he never slowed down. on the primary campaign trail in new hampshire once, he grabbed the hand of a mannequin asking for votes. when he realized his mistake, he said, never know, got to ask. you can hear the voice, can't you? as dana car havevy said, it's w rogers trying to be john wayne. george herbert walker bush was america's last great soldier states men, a 20th century founding father. he governored with virtues that most closely resembled those of
washington and adams, of tr and fdr, of truman, and of eisenhower, of men who believed in causes larger then themselves. 6'2", handsome, dominant in person, president bush spoke with those big strong hans, making fists to underscore points. a master of what franklin roosevelt called the science of human relationships. he believed that to who much was given much is expected. and because life gave him so much, he gave back again and again and again. he stood in the breach and the cold war against totalism, he stood against unthinking partisanship. he stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination.
and on his watch, a wall fell in berlin. a dictator's aggression did not stand. and doors across america opened to those with disabilities. and in his personal life, he stood in the breach against heart break and hurt, always offering an outstretched hand, a warm word, a sympathetic tear. if you were down, he would rush to lift you up. and if you were soaring, he would rush to savor your success. strong and gracious, comforting and charming, loving and loyal, he was our shield in dangers hour.
now, of course, there was ambition, too, loads of that. to serve, he had to succeed. to provid to proceed he had to pro vei prevail. politics is a pure undertaking. not if you want to win it's not. an imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union. it must be said that for a keenly intelligent states man of stirring almost unperiled private eloquence, public speaking was not exactly a strong suit. fluency in english, president bush once remarked is something that i'm often not accused of. looking ahead to the '88 election, he observed in arguably it's no exaggeration to
say the undecided could go one way or the other. and late in his presidency, he allowed that we are enjoying sluggish times, but we are not enjoying them very much. his tongue may have run a muck at moments but his heart was steadfast. his life code, as he said, was tell the truth. don't blame people. be strong. do your best. try hard. forgive. stay the course. and that was and is the most american of creeds. abraham lincoln's better nature,
and george w. bush of light is hymn. for lincoln and bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient. to hope rather than to fear. and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts. in this work he had the most wonderful of allies in barbara pee pierce bush of 73 years. he called her barb, the silver forks, and when the situation warranted, the enforcer. he was the only boy she ever kissed. her children, mrs. bush liked to say, always wanted to throw up when they heard that. in a letter to barbara during the war, young george bush had written i love you precious with
all my heart. and to know that you love me means my life. how lucky our children will be to have a mother like you. and as they will tell you, they surely were. as vice president, bush once visited a children's leukemia wa ward, 35 years before they had lost a daughter robin to the disease. a small boy wanted to meet the american vice president. learning that 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.
and i thought, i can't turn around, i can't dissolve because of personal tragedy in the face of the nurses that give of themselves every day. so i stood there looking at this little guy, tears running down my cheek, hoping he wouldn't 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 bill, vibrant, all involving heart. and so we ask, as we commend his soul to god, and as he did, why him, why was he spared.
the workings of providence are mysterious, but this one is clear, the george herbert walker bush who survived into the pacific three quarters of a century ago, made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer, and nobler. that was his mission. that was his heartbeat. and we if we listen closely enough, we can hear that heartbeat even now for it's the heartbeat of a lion, a lion who not only led us, but who loved us. that's why him.
♪ >> a reading from revelation to st. john. then i saw a new heaven, and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. and the sea was no more. and i saw the holy city, the new jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from god, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. and i heard a loud voice from the throne saying, see, the home of god is among mortals. he will dwell with them. they will be his people's. and god himself will be with them. he will wipe every tear from
their eyes. death will be no more. mourning and crying and pain will be no more. for the first things have passed away. then he said to me, it is done. i am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. to t to the thirsty i will give water from the spring of the water of life. those who conquer will inherit these things. and i will be their god, and they will be my children. and the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it. for the glory of god is its light. and the lamp is the lamb. the nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth
the colossal mite. bringing new strength and glory to these united states of america. and 50 or 100 years from now as historians view the accomplishments and context of all who have served as president, i believe it will be said that in the life of this country, the united states, which is, in my judgment, the greatest democratic republican that god has ever placed on the face of this earth. i believe it will be said that no occupant of the oval office was more courageous, more
principled, and more honorable than george herbert walker bush. george bush was a man of high accomplishment. he also had a delightful sense of humor and was a lot of fun. at his first nato meeting in brussels, as the new american president, he sat opposite me, actually, that day. george was taking copious notes, as the heads of government spoke. we were all limited in time. but, you know, it's very flatter go to have the president of the e united states to take notes as you speak. and even someone as modest as me. threw in a few more adjectives there to extend the pleasure of the experience. after the president prime
minister thatcher and chancellor had spoken, it was the turn of the prime minister of iceland who as president bush continued to write, went on, and on, and on, and on, ending only when the secretary general of nato firmly decreed a coffee break. george put down his pen, walked over to me and said, brian, i've just learned the fundamental principle of international affairs. i said what's that, george? he said the smaller the country, the longer the speech. [ laughter ] in the second year of the bush presidency, responding to implaquable pressures from reagan and bush administrations, the soviet union imploded.
this was, in my judgment, the most political event of the 20th century. anonymous situation that could have become extremely menacing to world security was instead deafly challenged by the leadership of president bush in broad and powerful currents of freedom, providing the russian people with the opportunity to build an embryonic dislocatiem and calls for freedom cascaded across central and eastern europe leaving dictators and dogma in the trash can of history, no challenge, no challenge assumed greater importance for western solidarity than the union cages
of germany within an unswearing nato. but all fears in western europe and unrelenting hostility by the military establishment in the soviet union and the wausau pact rendered this initiative among the most complex and sensitive ever undertaken. one serious misstep and this entire process could have been there. this most vital junction of the 20th century than chancellor in germany. in a speech to the parliamentary commission, chancellor said categorically that this historic initiative of german renumberer
cages could never have succeeded within the leadership of president bush. much has been written about the first gulf war, simply put the coalition of nations assembled under the nations including for the first time many influential arab countries and led by the united states will rank with the most spectacular and successful international initiatives ever undertaken in modern history, designed to punish aggressor, defend the cause of freedom, and ensure order in a region that has seen too much of the opposite for far too long. this was president bush's initiative from beginning to end. president bush was also responsible for the north american free trade agreement. recently modernized and improved by new administrations, which created the largest and richest free trade area in the history
of the world. while, also, signing into law the americans with disabilities act, which transformed the lives of millions and millions of americans forever. president bush's decision to go forward with strong environmental legislation k, cleaning the clean air act that resulted in the acid accord with canada, gift for future americans and canadians to savor in the air they breathe and the water they drink and the forests, rivers and streams they cherish. there is a word for this. it's called leadership. leadership. let me tell you, that when george bush was president of the united states of america, every
single head of government in the world knew they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader, one was that was established, rest lut and brave. i don't keep a diary, but sometimes i write personal notes after professional events. one occurred in walkers point in maine on september 2nd, 2001. we had been spending our traditional labor day weekend with george and barbara. towards the end, he and i had a long private conversation. my notes capture the moment. i told george how i thought his mood had shifted over the last eight years. from a series of frustrations
and moments of disupon dency in 1983 to the hyphen thusism i felt with the presidential library and his governor to that year, to the delight following jeb's election in 1998 followed by the great pride and pleasure with george w.to the presidency. and perhaps most importantly the serenity we found today in both barbara and george. they are truly at peace with themselves. joyous in what they and the children have achieved. gratified by the goodness that god has bestowed upon them all. and genuinely content with the thrill and promise of each passing day. and at that, george, had tears
in his eyes as i spoke said, you know, brian, you have us pegged just right and the roller coaster of emotions we've experienced since 1992. come with me. he led me down the porch at walker's point to the side of the house that fronts the ocean and pointed to a small simple plaque that had been unobtrusively installed just some days earlier. it read, cavu. george said, brian, this stands for ceiling and visibility unlimited. when i was a terrified 18 to 19-year-old pilot in the pacific, those were the words we hoped to word before takeoff. it meant perfect flying. and that's the way i feel about
our life today, cavu, everything is perfect. ba barb and i could not have asked for better lives of the we are truly happy and truly at peace. as i looked over the waters of walkers point on that golden september afternoon in maine, i was reminded of the lines simple and true that speak to the real nature of george bush and his love of his wonderful family and precious surroundings. there are wooden ships, there are sailing ships, there are ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and