George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States and son of the late George H.W. Bush, delivered his father’s final eulogy during his Washington D.C. service at the Washington National Cathedral.
In his address, “43” recounted some stories that only he and close members of the family would know, as well as some other notable moments throughout his father’s life.
The room was filled with laughs at some points and at others, nearly the whole crowd was in tears. During one moment, in particular, Bush was choked up talking about how his father was now holding his daughter, Robin, who passed away just before her 4th birthday.
From the Associated Press:
George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 his mother, who died in April. He took comfort in knowing “Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
It was a family that occupied the White House for a dozen years — the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two.
“He was a genuinely optimistic man,” Bush said, as ABC News reports.
“Of course, he wasn’t perfect,” the former president continued. “The man couldn’t stomach vegetables,” Bush said with a grin. He added that “41” especially could not tolerate broccoli, a quality Bush admitted to as well.
“43” went on to describe his father as “the best father a son or daughter could have.”
Adding, “Dad, I love you and you’ve been a wonderful father.”
Bush also shared that when he heard the news that his father was not doing well and unlikely to survive for much longer, the younger Bush called him and shared in his last conversation.
“I love you, too,” Bush said were his father’s last words.
Others who delivered eulogies helped fill the room with joy amid the celebration of the late president, who many consider one of the most successful one-term presidents ever and especially so during the late 1980s.
Also from AP:
The elder Bush was “the last great-soldier statesman,” historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, “our shield” in dangerous times.
But he also said that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply cracked, “Never know. Gotta ask.”
Meacham recounted how comedian Dana Carvey once said the key to doing an impersonation of Bush was “Mister Rogers trying to be John Wayne.”
Here’s more on the service eulogies, from ABC News:
Other eulogies came from former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who spoke of Bush as a world leader.
“Every single person knew you were dealing with a gentleman,” he said.
Former Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, an old friend, spoke of the many laughs they shared — and promised not to speak too long.
“Relax,” he told the gathering. “George told me I only had 10 minutes.”
Simpson joked that Bush had a good sense of humor — one he “never lost” — despite never being able to remember a punch line.
“Humor is a universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life,” Simpson said. That’s what humor is.”
Bush “never hated anyone,” he said.