Body of former President Bush arrives in Washington

By Amanda Becker and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The body of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush arrived on Monday in Washington, on a final trip to the U.S. Capitol where mourners will pay tribute to the man who led the nation as the Cold War ended.

The 41st president’s flag-draped casket was unloaded from Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, and honored with a 21-gun salute and the solemn notes of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

The Bush family, led by son and former President George W. Bush, accompanied the patriarch’s body on the flight from Texas and on its trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

The body of the Republican former president will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda from Monday through Wednesday, when a state funeral is scheduled at the National Cathedral.

Mourners began lining up at the Capitol to pay respects to Bush, who died at his Houston home on Friday night at the age of 94, seven months after his wife Barbara passed away.

Many spoke of Bush’s role in a bygone era of bipartisan civility in Washington, drawing a sharp contrast with bitter divisions in the capital in the age of Republican President Donald Trump.

“It really is about the character, and how they (Bush and others in his Cabinet) ran our government. That’s why I’m here,” said Sheila Murray, 58, from Stevensville, Maryland, who came with her 14-year-old son Thomas.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recalled Bush’s understated style of governing.

“He wasn’t a dramatic or revolutionary leader,” McConnell said in a statement. “He didn’t advertise radical change. He never quite seemed at home in the spotlight. Instead, he offered humility and a servant’s heart.”

After services in Washington, there will be another funeral in Houston on Thursday followed by burial at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Bush served two terms as vice president under fellow Republican President Ronald Reagan before his own stint in the Oval Office from 1989 to 1993, a time that saw the end of the Cold War as well as the United States’ routing of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s army in the 1991 Gulf War.

He failed to win a second term after breaking a no-new-taxes pledge.

Trump has ordered the federal government to close on Wednesday and both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be closed on Wednesday in observance. U.S. bond and options markets were also due to be closed, with energy and foreign exchange markets expected to remain open.

Remembrances to George and Barbara Bush sprang up in the neighborhood where he made his home, at a memorial to President Bush at a city park and at the airport named in his honor.

Christy Smith paused over the weekend to pay her respects to President Bush at a bronze statue of him at a Houston park.

“He set a good example for all of us,” said Smith, 39. “He always was caring and treated people equally.”

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams, additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)