From right, former President George W. Bush, second from right, former first lady Laura Bush, Neil Bush, Sharon Bush, Bobby Koch, Doro Koch, Jeb Bush and Columba Bush, stand just prior to the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush being carried by a joint services military honor guard from the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

From right, former President George W. Bush, second from right, former first lady Laura Bush, Neil Bush, Sharon Bush, Bobby Koch, Doro Koch, Jeb Bush and Columba Bush, stand just prior to the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush being carried by a joint services military honor guard from the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Mulroney fights tears in loving tribute to former president George Bush

George H. W. Bush will be buried at his presidential library in Texas, near his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin

An emotional Brian Mulroney says he’s convinced George H. W. Bush will go down as the most courageous, principled and honourable occupant of the Oval Office the United States has ever known.

The former prime minister, a close personal friend and confidant, fought back tears at one point during his eulogy at Washington’s National Cathedral as he recalled personal memories of his time with the 41st president.

Mulroney described Bush as a true gentleman and a paragon of genuine leadership who ran the country the same way he lived his life: with distinction, resolve and bravery.

And he struggled with his emotions as he recounted Bush, a former fighter pilot, showing him a plaque mounted at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, inscribed with the letters CAVU: “ceiling and visibility unlimited,” a description of perfect flying conditions. Mulroney said that was how Bush felt about his life after the presidency.

Liberal cabinet minister Scott Brison and Ambassador David MacNaughton are also among an estimated 3,000 friends, dignitaries, presidents past and present and other political heavyweights gathered at the cathedral for a final farewell.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump sat directly in front of Mulroney as he spoke, alongside three of their living White House predecessors, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Bush’s son and eventual successor, George W. Bush, sat across the aisle with family.

Trump declared Wednesday a national day of mourning in the U.S., part of a week-long series of commemorations that began Monday with a solemn public visitation in the Capitol rotunda.

READ MORE: Solemn public pays tribute to George H.W. Bush before dawn in Rotunda

READ MORE: Presidents club assembles for Bush funeral

Prior to the start of the ceremony, the president used his preferred platform — Twitter — to send a message of remembrance, urging Americans to treat the occasion not as a funeral, but as a celebration of the former president’s life.

Flags on Canadian federal buildings in both countries are also flying at half-mast today in a cross-border tribute.

Bush will be buried Thursday at his presidential library in Texas, near his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.

In an interview Monday, Brison — noting that Bush’s signature is on the original 1992 version of NAFTA — recalled meeting the former president for the first time at a conference in Montreal marking the deal’s 10-year anniversary.

“I was struck then by his graciousness, his interest in and enthusiasm for Canada — but he was just an extraordinarily gracious person,” Brison said.

“He came from tremendous privilege, but he chose to use that privilege and that upbringing to serve the greater good. That sense of noblesse oblige is something that a lot of people of privilege don’t necessarily remember, that sense of giving back. That was something he took seriously.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, third from left, leads former Operation Desert Storm commanders as they pay their last respects to former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, third from left, leads former Operation Desert Storm commanders as they pay their last respects to former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Just Posted

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read