It was around 10 a.m. on Wednesday when mourners began finding their seats in Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Many mingled as they awaited the start of the service to pay respects to former president George H.W. Bush. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan could be seen chatting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.); German Chancellor Angela Merkel was spotted talking to former vice president Joe Biden.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump walked down the aisle and took their seats in the front row of the cathedral next to former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, all of whom were accompanied by their wives.
Both Trumps shook hands with the Obamas before they sat down.
During the service, Bush, who died Nov. 30 at 94, was remembered by four people delivering eulogies. His son, former president George W. Bush, was one of them. He said his father had “showed me what it means to be a president that serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country.”
Presidential historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham delivered the first of the four eulogies; former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and former senator Alan Simpson delivered the others.
The funeral also featured two Bible readings, the first of which was from the Bible’s Book of Isaiah and delivered by two granddaughters of the late president, Lauren Bush Lauren and Ashley Walker Bush.
Lauren, 34, is the daughter of Neil Bush, one of the president’s sons. She previously had a modeling career before co-founding the FEED Projects in 2007, a nonprofit focused on feeding children around the world. She is married to David Lauren, the son of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Ashley, 29, is also the daughter of Neil Bush. She works as a film producer.
The second reading, from The Bible’s Book of Revelation, was delivered by another granddaughter of the late president, Jenna Bush Hager.
Hager, 37, is one of two daughters of former president George W. Bush. She is known for her work as a contributor on NBC’s “Today Show.”
George W. Bush was the last of the speakers. He remembered his father as someone who “valued character over pedigree,” who “showed us how setbacks can strengthen,” and who, with his optimism, “made his children believe anything was possible.”
George H.W. Bush “could tease and needle but never out of malice,” his son said, with Trump sitting in the front row.
Bush broke down at the end of his remarks as he recalled his father as the “best father,” and prompted applause from the crowd after saying that he smiles “knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
Robin was George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s daughter, who died of leukemia at age 3 in 1953.
As the service ended, Bush’s coffin was carried from the church to the sounds of “Hail to the Chief” and placed in a hearse that took it to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The coffin was flown to Houston, where Bush will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.