George Bush Sneaks Michelle Obama Candy at Father's Funeral

Wikimedia Commons Somalis protest at gate eight of the US Embassy in Mogadishu in February 1993

Wikimedia Commons Somalis protest at gate eight of the US Embassy in Mogadishu in February 1993

Added former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney: "I believe it will be said that no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable than George Herbert Walker Bush".

The country said goodbye to him Wednesday in a national funeral service that offered high praise for the last of the presidents to have fought in World War II - and a hefty dose of humour about a man once described as a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne.

After Thursday's private services, the former president will be taken by a train, pulled by an engine commissioned in his honor, 120 kilometers north to the city of College Station for burial at his presidential library on the grounds of Texas A&M University.

Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost when she was 3 and his mother, Barbara, who died in April.

"Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary, that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values like faith and family", former President George W. Bush said of his father at the funeral on Wednesday.

Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, regaled the congregation with stories from his years as Bush's friend in Washington.

For all the sombre tributes to the late president's public service and strength of character, laughter filled the cathedral time after time.

"In our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again", said his son George, through tears.

In salute to Bush, a nod to passing of 'greatest generation'

Bush, the 41st USA president, occupied the White House from 1989 to 1993, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelling former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces from oil-rich Kuwait. Family members looked on as servicemen fired off a cannon salute.

According to reports, Trump and Melania left immediately following the proceedings inside the building, allowing them to avoid speaking with the Clintons and Obamas.

He was "the last great-soldier statesman", historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, "our shield" in unsafe times. In their row together, President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts. Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who looked straight ahead. Vice-President Mike Pence shook Carter's hand.

Since Bush's death, Trump has traded his usual provocative posture for one of respect and solemnity, tweeting before heading to the cathedral about "a day of celebration for a great man".

A divided Washington led by the nation's five living presidents put on a rare show of unity Wednesday at the state funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush, as America bade farewell to its 41st president. Members of the Bush clan and top lawmakers stood outside the US Capitol as an honour guard carried Bush's flag-draped casket to the hearse.

The current president, who has had a contentious public feud with the Bush family, earlier had declared Wednesday a national day of mourning, closing federal agencies, suspending regular mail delivery and closing stock markets.

Around the clock in the Rotunda over two days, thousands - many who had lined up in near-freezing temperatures for hours to enter the Capitol - paid their final respects to Bush, whose flag-draped coffin rested on the wooden catafalque built in 1865 for the casket of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

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