tv President George H.W. Bush Capitol Rotunda Ceremony CSPAN December 9, 2018 12:21am-1:28am EST
watch it live on c-span starting january 3. c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. sunday morning, american conservative union chair discusses the trump presidency and the new congress. also a look at criminal justice reform efforts with georgetown university law professor and author of "memoir of a jailhouse lawyer." and the implications of the brexit about in the united kingdom with the brooks's institution. watch washington journal live. join the discussion. casket bearinghe the remains of president george h.w. bush was brought to the capital to lie in state. vice president mike pence,
appearance among us of great men and women who serve as inspirations for all americans to be their best in service, to god, country, and neighbor. this day, we honor our 41st president, george h.w. bush. president bush dedicated his entire life to public service. as a vocation, first in the military, then as a member of congress, a diplomat, director of the cia, vice president, and finally, president. it is a record of service reminiscent of john quincy adams and unmatched in nearly a century. we thank you, oh god, for having
endowed president bush with noblesse oblige and ask that his example of service may be an inspiration to all americans, indeed to all the world. as we continue this celebration of honor, grant that all that attend, might be desirous of being our best selves in service to all of our brothers and sisters as you might call us to be. dear lord, thank you for inspiring such greatness in president george h.w. bush and continue to bless the united states of america. amen. >> amen.
mcconnell: 30 years ago, on the west front of this capital, george herbert walker bush addressed the nation for the first time as our president. he said, "we meet on democracy's front porch, a good place to talk as neighbors and as friends." the words of a humble servant, who loved his fellow citizens, and a leader who knew america not only guards our future, but safeguards democracy for the world. today, this hero has returned to the capital a final time, not on the front porch of our democracy, but in its hallowed cathedral.
many paintings that tell the story of our land, and our liberty, and flanked by statues of fellow champions whom he joined in making that story possible. george bush was a teenager when he volunteered for military service and became the navy's youngest aviator. he was only 20 on that september day in 1944 when his plane was hit on a bombing run. through the fire, and smoke, george bush stayed steady at the controls. only once he had accomplished his mission, did he parachute out over the pacific. a steady hand, staying the course. that is what george bush gave us. decorated aviator, congressman,
ambassador to the united nations, envoy to china, cia director, eight years as vice president, and commander in chief. through the cold war and the soviet union's collapse, he kept us on course. when the rule of law needed defending in the persian gulf, he kept us on course. with his even temperament and hard won expertise, george herbert walker bush steered this country as straight as he steered that airplane. he kept us flying high and challenged us to fly higher still. he did it with modesty and kindness.
that would have been surprising in someone 1/10th as tough and accomplished as he was. the patriot who lies before us was blessed with many gifts, but there was no doubt which he prized most of all. a great love story began at that christmas dance when george bush met barbara pierce, and the grace and virtue they taught their children has enriched this nation through a family of leaders. today the nation stands with that family, with our 43rd president, with jeb, marvin, neil, doro, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. we stand with you in mourning but also in gratitude.
gratitude for lives well-lived and duties fulfilled. gratitude that god gave this country george and barbara bush, and that they may now be reunited in the light of his grace. ryan: as americans, we have no more solemn duty than laying a great patriot to rest. here lies a great man. to the bush family, on behalf of the whole house, republicans and democrats, we are profoundly sorry for your loss, and we are honored to celebrate this wonderful life with you.
like so many, i feel a personal debt of gratitude, a sentiment millions of americans are feeling at this moment. the 1988 campaign was the first i was involved in. we handed out literature at the janesville ballgames and the 4-h fair. i remember going to a big rally at miami of ohio the day after the first debate. the experience drew me into politics. he was the first president i had the chance to vote for. he was the first president to teach me and many of us that in a democracy, sometimes you fall short. how you handle that, that is just as important as how you win.
an old preacher once said, grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. glory is transcendent in the life of our republic. this rotunda is a trumpet call to glory. tributes to the giants all the way up into the sky. grace is different. it is more elemental. it is not larger than life, it is the stuff of life, the connective tissue in a free society. it deepens the well of our common humanity. throughout his life of service, president bush personified
grace. his character was second to none. he reached the heights of power with uncommon humility. he made monumental contributions to freedom with the fundamental decency that resonates across generations. no one better harmonized the joy of life and the duty of life. there is that image of him as commander in chief during the gulf war, waving to a sea of troops during a visit during thanksgiving. there are all these images of him as a devoted husband. the twinkle in his eye that barbara brought out, especially
in those huge photos that you had. this one, i will never forget. there is the image of him as a loving father, reaching out to hold his son's hand at the national cathedral after 9/11. there is the letter he wrote his children, on the last day of 1990, as he wrestled with the decision over operation desert storm. he begins by recounting the family christmas and he apologizes if he seems distracted. "i tried not to be," he writes. for about a page, he elaborates over his struggle about sending young americans into harm's way. twice he writes, "every human life is precious." in the original copy, he adds a note wishing his family a new
year. in consequential times, george herbert walker bush demonstrated the finest qualities of our nation and of humankind. a great leader, and a good man. a gentle soul of firm resolve. he showed us that how we live is as important as what we achieve. his life was a hymn of honor. his legacy is grace perfected. his memory will belong to glory. god bless the 41st president of the united states.
pence: speaker ryan, leader mcconnell, leader schumer, leader pelosi, members of congress, distinguished guests, but most of all, president george w. bush, governor jeb bush, neil, marvin, doro and the entire bush family, it is deeply humbling to stand before you today at the beginning of a week when we will commemorate and celebrate the lifetime of service and leadership of the 41st president of the united states, president george herbert walker bush.
the bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. on behalf of the first family, my family, and the american people, we offer our deepest sympathies and respects to your family. we thank you for sharing this special man with this nation and the world. today, president bush becomes the 32nd american to lie in state in the united states capitol rotunda. soon, americans from every
corner of the country and walk of life will make their way to this rotunda to pay the respects of a great nation. on the death of abner, it was written that king david said to you not realize that a great commander and man has fallen in israel this day? george herbert walker bush was such a man. he was known as the quiet man, but not for lack of nerve or daring. in all of his 94 years, he never lost his love of adventure, and never failed to answer the call to serve his country. born into a tradition of public service, george herbert walker bush began his own life in service when he was still in high school, after the japanese attacked pearl harbor, he wanted to do his part. he enlisted in the united states navy on his 18th birthday.
on receiving his wings, he became the nation's youngest naval aviator and was sent to the south pacific, where his story almost ended. september 1944, on a bombing raid, his aircraft was hit, his engine caught fire, but he managed to hit his target before bailing out and being rescued by american forces after four hours at sea. he flew 58 combat missions, and earned the distinguished flying cross, which would have been enough honor for any american life. george herbert walker bush was just getting started. after he came home, he staked his claim to a booming postwar america by making a name for himself in the oil business. for four years, he walked to these halls as a congressman. president nixon asked him to be our ambassador to the united
nations. he led the party during a tumultuous time for the presidency. he did the work as a diplomat as the first united states envoy to china and lead the cia. for eight years, he served as the 43rd vice president of the united states. i was told that, as he was preparing, he joked about the job saying that there was "nothing substantive to do at all." [laughter] as history records, during those years he set the standard as a sound counselor and loyal advisor to an outsider who came to washington, d.c. to shake things up, cut taxes, rebuild the military, and together, they did just that.
and then, in 1988, he made history again. george herbert walker bush was elected in a landslide as the 41st president of the united states of america, becoming the first sitting vice president to win the presidency in more than 150 years. he served during an uncertain time in the world, made momentous by his leadership. president bush oversaw the fall of the soviet union, the crumbling of the berlin wall. under his leadership, america won the cold war. he took our nation to war to repel aggression in the persian gulf. through his leadership, and the brilliance of our armed forces, the united states won a decisive victory. when george herbert walker bush left office, he left america and
the world more peaceful, prosperous, and secure. president bush was a great leader, who made a great difference in the life of this nation. he was also just a good man. he was devoted to his wife, family, and friends. i was lucky enough to meet him in 1988, when he was vice president and i was a 29-year-old just getting started in politics. then, as always, i was struck by his approachability. there was a kindness about the man that was evident to everyone who met him. all of his years in public service were characterized by kindness, modesty, and patriotism. he was so modest that he never wrote an autobiography.
he did leave a record of his life in the thousands of letters that he wrote. i am told that he started writing letters to his parents, and his circle of correspondence grew to include family, staff, friends, advisers, business associates, former presidents, and anyone who would take a trouble to write to him. after a lifetime of writing letters, my son got one not just too long ago. as i told two of his sons this weekend, when our son made his first tailhook landing as a marine aviator on the uss george herbert walker bush, i took the liberty of writing the ship's namesake to ask for a small
favor. i did not write him as a vice president to a former president, i wrote as a proud dad of a marine aviator to a former navy pilot. i asked him to sign a picture of the flight deck that i could give to my son. we were told by the staff that the president had long since ended the practice of signing autographs, and we understood that. but little to my surprise, just in time for my son's winging, there came not only a signed photograph, but a letter, hand signed as well. august, 2018. in that letter, president bush wrote to my son, "congratulation on receiving your wings of gold, i know how proud you and your family are at this moment."
and in words that assured us that the letter came directly from him, he wrote "though we have not met, i share the pride your father has for you during this momentous occasion, and i wish you many cavu days ahead. all of the best, g. bush." i would come to learn that that acronym, cavu, is a term navy pilots have used since world war ii. it stands for ceiling and visibility unlimited. president bush described cavu, in his words, as the kind of weather we navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the pacific. he once wrote a letter to his children saying that cavu, in
his words, describes my own life as it has been over the years and as it is right now. ceiling and visibility unlimited. that might well describe the essence of this man. and it may have been his vision, the vision he had for his life, for his children, his children's children, and his country. no barriers, no boundaries, no limits. so we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve, but we do not grieve like those who have no hope, for president george herbert walker bush had that hope. his faith sustained him throughout his life of service.
and we pray that faith and be a source of comfort, for all of those who mourn the loss of this good man and great american. president george herbert walker bush loved his family, and he served his country. his example will always inspire, and his lifetime of service will be enshrined in the hearts of the american people forever. may god bless the memory of george herbert walker bush, and may god comfort his family and friends, and may god continue to bless the united states of america.
>> let us pray. eternal father, strong to save, in whom we live and move and have our being, we praise you for your generous providence that provided our nation and world with the gift of your servant, president george herbert walker bush. lord, we are grateful for the privilege you gave us to learn and grow from his integrity,
kindness, heroism, courage, excellence, service, intellect, humility, civility and spirituality. as we celebrate this well-lived life, challenge us, o god, to also leave the world better than we found it. continue to comfort those who mourn, touch each member of the bush family, with your mercy, love and grace. and god, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world lies