Ceremonies for George HW Bush draw presidents and citizens

Washington is bidding its final farewell to George HW Bush in a service of prayer and praise that is drawing together world envoys, Americans of high office and a guy from Maine who used to fix things in Mr Bush’s house on the water.

A viewing for the 41st president at the hushed Capitol Rotunda closed on Wednesday morning.

A ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, the nexus of state funerals, will cap three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honour the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose a re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

The four living ex-presidents – Jimmy Carter, Mr Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama – are due at the service, and Bush Jnr will eulogise his father.

President Donald Trump will attend but is not scheduled to speak.

Also attending: one king (Jordan), one queen (Jordan), two princes (Britain, Bahrain), Germany’s chancellor and Poland’s president, among representatives of more than a dozen countries.

Also expected in the invitation-only crowd is Mike Lovejoy, an electrician and fix-it man who has worked at Mr Bush’s Maine summer estate since 1990 and says he was shocked and heartened to be asked to come.

On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the Capitol Rotunda to view Mr Bush’s coffin and honour a president whose legacy included Second World War military service and a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled.

Bob Dole pays his last respects (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Bob Dole pays his last respects (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Former senator Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and one-time rival.

After the national funeral service at the cathedral, Mr Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose at St Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial on Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station.

His final resting place will be alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukaemia in 1953 at the age of three.

Mr Trump ordered the federal government closed on Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.

Sully the dog (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Sully the dog (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Mr Bush’s service dog Sully was taken to the coffin viewing — his main service in the months since Mrs Bush’s death in April being to rest his head on her husband’s lap.

- Press Association

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