Former president George H.W. Bush will lie in state next week at the U.S. Capitol, giving the American public an opportunity to bid farewell to the 41st president, congressional leaders announced Saturday.
The public will be able to pay its respects to Bush from 7:30 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
President Trump and first lady Melania also announced they will attend Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral. Wednesday will be declared a national day of mourning, Trump said. Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies and departments to close Wednesday “as a mark of respect” for Bush.
Details and timing of the funeral service at the cathedral in the nation’s capital were still being determined.
Texas officials confirmed that ceremonies are also in the works in the former president’s hometown of Houston and in College Station, Texas, the site of his presidential library. His wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3, are buried there.
“He was a very fine man,” Trump said of Bush, who died Friday night in Houston at the age of 94. “He led a full life, and a very exemplary life, too.”
Trump said he spoke with former president George W. Bush Saturday morning and offered his condolences.
In brief remarks at the G-20 summit in Argentina, Trump praised a presidential predecessor he has sometimes clashed with while in office. Trump said he canceled a scheduled a press conference out of respect for the Bush family.
A plane used as Air Force One will carry Bush’s casket from Houston to Washington for memorial services, Trump said.
The president’s fleet of planes have been used for that purpose in the past. A plane that serves as Air Force One carried former president Ronald Reagan’s casket to Washington. A plane used to fly the vice president recently carried the body of Sen. John McCain to the city for services.
“Air Force One will be taking myself and a group of our people back to Washington,” Trump said during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday evening. “It will then be reset, and it will be sent to Houston to pick up the casket of President Bush and it will be sent back to Washington.”
Trump called it “a special tribute that he deserves very much.”
The state funeral for the 41st president, whose death sparked tributes from around the world and across the political aisle, will be the first presidential funeral since Gerald Ford died in 2006.
Bush’s death comes months after the passing of his wife of 73 years, Barbara. The former first lady died in April. Her memorial service in Houston drew hundreds of thousands of people from past presidents and pizzeria owners, to heads of state and historians. Noticeably absent was Trump, who declined an invitation “out of respect” for the Bushes.
SOURCE: USA TODAY, by Aamer Madhani and Kirk Bado