State Funeral Arrangements for George H.W. Bush Announced

State Funeral Arrangements for George H.W. Bush Announced
Visitors sign a guest book at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Tex., on Dec. 1, 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Petr Svab

The state funeral of late former President George H.W. Bush will commence on Dec. 3 and span four days, with 11 ceremonies and three services in two states and the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense announced.

“We, the men and women of the Department of Defense, are honored and proud to support the Bush family and will do so with the utmost respect,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Howard in a Dec. 1 release, a day after the former president’s passing at age 94. Howard heads the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, the nearly 4,000-strong military task force that is overseeing the funeral.

President Donald Trump announced he’ll send Air Force One to Texas to carry Bush’s body to Washington from Houston on Dec. 3. A departure ceremony will be held at the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base near Houston at 10:30 a.m. local time.

The plane will land at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where an arrival ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. local time. The remains will then be moved to the U.S. Capitol, where an arrival ceremony is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m., with members of the House and Senate in attendance, followed by a short service.

Bush’s body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol from 7:30 p.m. until Dec. 5 at 8:45 a.m., with a guard of honor in attendance. Details of public access are yet to be announced.

Trump declared Dec. 5, as a National Day of Mourning and called on Americans “to assemble on that day in their respective places of worship to pay homage to the memory of President George H.W. Bush.”

“I invite the people of the world who share our grief to join us in this solemn observance,” he said in a Dec. 1 proclamation.

He also ordered flags to half-staff for 30 days at the White House and other official sites, including public buildings and military posts, in Bush’s honor and “and as an expression of public sorrow.”

On Dec. 5 at 10 a.m., a departure ceremony will begin, after which Bush’s remains will be transported to the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington, also known as the Washington National Cathedral, where a funeral service will be held for invited guests at 11 a.m.

Following a departure ceremony at 12:30 p.m., the casket bearing the former president will be moved to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and flown back to Ellington Field, before being transported to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Bush’s body will lie in repose there from 6:45 p.m. local time on Dec. 5 until at 6 a.m. on Dec. 6, with a guard of honor in attendance.

A funeral mass will be held at the church at 10 a.m. local time on Dec. 6 for invited guests.

At 11:15 a.m., after a departure ceremony, the remains will be transported by motorcade to the Union Pacific Railroad’s Westfield Auto Facility in Spring, Texas. Bush’s remains will then be taken by funeral train car to College Station, Texas.

The locomotive that will pull the train, No. 4141, was specially painted to resemble Air Force One in 2005 in Bush’s honor, Union Pacific said on its website.

The train will take about two and a half hours to make the roughly 70-mile trip through Hufsmith, Pinehurst, Magnolia, Todd Mission, Stoneham, Navasota, Millican, and Wellborn.

The train is scheduled to depart after a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. and arrive for a ceremony at the Texas A&M University, scheduled at 3:45 p.m. The university is the site of George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, where his remains will be laid to rest at 4:15 p.m.

Bush served as U.S. vice president from 1981 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan. He then succeeded Reagan for a single term. He spent time with his large family, thereafter, while his public agenda included a number of philanthropic activities.

Bush is one of the few who had a Navy ship named after them while they were still alive. The USS George H.W. Bush, the last of 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, was commissioned in 2009, and Bush himself attended its naming ceremony in 2002.

During his later years, Bush suffered from a condition that mimics Parkinson’s disease, which didn’t allow him to walk and made it hard for him to speak.

He passed away while surrounded by his family members and others.

He will be interred next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his daughter, Pauline Robinson Bush, who died in 1953 at age 3.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor the late president may make donations to the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
Related Topics