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Hundreds stream past George H.W. Bush's casket at Capitol

05 December 2018
Hundreds stream past George H.W. Bush's casket at Capitol

He was a true public servant who dedicated his life to our country - as a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, as a representative for the people of Texas, as a diplomat, as a leader in our intelligence community, as vice president and as our president. "But he was also just a good man", Mr. Pence said.

Bush was elected US president in 1988 as the successor to Ronald Reagan.

The military honor guard hefted his casket up the East Front steps and into the Rotunda - the same room he strolled as a congressman in the late 1960s, and which he later strode through in 1989, after taking the presidential oath of office on the Capitol's West Front steps. His eldest son, former President George W. Bush, and others from the family traveled on the flight from Houston.

Ryan recalled how Bush earned his first vote as a young man, adding that the former president was a "great patriot". "His legacy is grace perfected".

Political combatants set aside their fights to honor a Republican who led in a less toxic era and at times found commonality with Democrats despite sharp policy disagreements.

The New York Stock Exchange observed a one-minute moment of silence for Bush at 9:20 a.m. on Monday and the NYSE Group Markets will close Wednesday.

Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House speaker, and Senate Democratic leader Charles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer placed wreaths at the ceremony.

Although Bush's funeral services are suffused with the flourishes accorded presidents, by his choice they will not include a formal funeral procession through downtown Washington.

His body will return to Houston on Wednesday evening and will lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church until Thursday morning when he will be eulogized during a funeral at the church.

While a day of mourning is rare, generally observed after the death of a president - the last one was on January 2, 2007 on the day of Gerald Ford's funeral - a lot of services are affected, including the closures of the federal government and financial markets. Afterward, Bush's remains will be transported back to Houston to be buried in the family plot, alongside his wife and former first lady Barbara Bush, who died in April. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.

Bush's death also reduces membership in the ex-presidents' club to four: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.