George H.W. Bush was eulogized Thursday by his former secretary of state as a beacon of humility and decency -- and America's “best one-term president” -- during a second funeral service in Texas, right before the former president was laid to rest on the grounds of his official library and museum.
“You are safely tucked in now and through the ages, with God’s loving arms around you, because our glory, George, was to have you as a president, and as such a friend,” longtime Bush friend James Baker, the former secretary of state, said in his eulogy.
The service – at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston – came a day after Bush’s legacy was honored by a procession of dignitaries and family members at Wednesday's state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral. At the beginning of the Houston funeral, “America the Beautiful” was played and the congregation sang “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” and the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Baker praised Bush for his “decency, boundless kindness and consideration of others,” and for “a life nobly lived.” He cited the president’s actions in bringing an end to the Cold War, referencing how the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 less than one year into Bush’s presidency. Baker called it “a remarkable time for American foreign policy” and said the president “was temperate in thought, in word and in deed.”
"Yes, he had the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he always maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker," Baker said, noting that while Bush was not always considered a skilled speaker, "his deeds were quite eloquent."
After Thursday's funeral, Bush’s casket traveled 70 miles by train on Union Pacific Locomotive 4141 toward his final resting place in College Station, Texas. People were seen lining up along the route to catch a glimpse of the train.
During the Texas funeral, Bush’s eldest grandson George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner, also delivered a tribute. Songs were performed by the Oak Ridge Boys and Reba McEntire.
“Yes, George Herbert Walker Bush is the most gracious, most decent, most humble man that I will ever know,” the grandson said. “And it’s the honor of a lifetime to share his name.”
Nearly a thousand invited guests were expected at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Other well-known guests included: Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Chuck Norris, astronaut Walter Cunningham, Houston Texan J.J. Watt, baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo and others.
On Wednesday, Bush’s son, George W. Bush, also an ex-president, delivered an emotional and personal eulogy for "a great and noble man." He choked up in describing “the best father a son or daughter could have.”
"We're gonna miss you," the 43rd president said of his father, the 41st president. "Your decency, sincerity and kind soul will stay with us forever."
Bush, who died last Friday at the age 94, was preceded in death by about eight months by his wife, Barbara Bush. He’ll be buried next to her, and their daughter Robin, who died in 1953.
Bush’s casket first arrived at the U.S. Capitol Monday night, when a short service was held with family, friends and lawmakers. Since then, thousands of visitors flocked to the Capitol Rotunda to pay their respects as Bush was lying in state. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for Bush, said nearly 12,000 people went to see Bush.