A final service for former President George H.W. Bush is being held Thursday in Houston, the city Mr. Bush adopted as his hometown, before he is laid to rest at his presidential library at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas. The Houston funeral service will take place at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
On Wednesday, thousands gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. — including the present and past presidents, dignitaries, family and friends — to honor the life and legacy of Mr. Bush.
Former President George W. Bush eulogized his father in a moving speech, as did other longtime friends of the Bush family.
“He looked for the good in each person, and he usually found it,” the younger Bush said of his father.
About 1,200 mourners are expected at today’s service. Bush’s grandchildren are serving as honorary pallbearers and as readers in the service.
Services for the 41st president are set for Thursday morning at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where the Bush family worshipped. The church’s doors opened two hours early for guests, who arrived on buses with marquees reading “George H.W. Bush.”
After the funeral, a hearse will carry Bush’s casket from St. Martin’s to a Union Pacific facility north of Houston near the international airport named for him. There, his casket will be placed on a special train that will travel to his presidential library in College Station, where he will be buried.
Bush funeral train
On Thursday, a 4,300-horsepower locomotive will carry Mr. Bush’s casket, along with relatives and close friends, for around 70 miles (113 kilometers). The journey through five small Texas towns is expected to take about two and a half hours, delivering the casket from suburban Houston to College Station. According to Bush spokesman Jim McGrath, the funeral train has been part of the official planning of his funeral for years.
There, a motorcade will take Bush to his presidential library at the university, where he will be laid to rest at a private ceremony next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his daughter Robin, who died at age 3 in 1953.
This is the eighth funeral train in U.S. history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s body traveled from the National Cathedral in Washington through seven states to his Kansas hometown of Abilene 49 years ago. Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train was the first, in 1865.
The train’s sixth car, a converted baggage hauler called “Council Bluffs,” has been fitted with transparent sides to allow mourners lining the tracks on Thursday views of Bush’s flag draped coffin.
“We just rode on the railroads all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Bush said at the time, recalling how he took trains, and often slept on them, during trips as a child with his family.