US mourns ex-president George H.W. Bush's death

Officials in College Station, Texas, are preparing for the funeral of the late former President George H.W. Bush who died on Friday in Houston.
A family paying tribute to former US president George H. W. Bush at his monument in Houston, Texas, on Saturday. A national day of mourning has been declared on Wednesday.
A family paying tribute to former US president George H. W. Bush at his monument in Houston, Texas, on Saturday. A national day of mourning has been declared on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

COLLEGE STATION (Texas) • Flags flew at half-staff across the United States as Americans prepared for a week of solemn tributes to Mr George H. W. Bush, in his home state of Texas and in the US Capitol, a day after the former president died aged 94.

Suffering from Parkinson's disease, Mr Bush had been wheelchair-bound and in failing health until his death. Tributes poured in from world leaders in memory of the 41st US president, who guided America through the end of the Cold War and launched the international campaign to drive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.

Many of those same leaders are expected to attend Mr Bush's state funeral this week, alongside President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. Mr Trump was notably absent from the funerals of the statesman's late wife Barbara, and of veteran fellow Republican John McCain.

Although the two Republican presidents were in many ways polar opposites - the soft-spoken, patrician Bush reportedly once dismissed the blustering New Yorker as a "blowhard" and even voted for his rival Hillary Clinton - Mr Trump paid the late leader a gracious tribute, saying he had "inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service".

"His accomplishments were great from beginning to end," Mr Trump tweeted.

Declaring a national day of mourning on Wednesday - when the federal government and New York Stock Exchange will close in Mr Bush's honour - Mr Trump also signalled his respect by calling off a press conference planned at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

The days-long national farewell to Mr Bush will begin today with a commemoration in Houston, where the Bushes lived for years and where he died last Friday surrounded by friends and family.

  • PM Lee sends condolences to family of late US president

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to former United States president George W. Bush and his family to convey his deepest condolences on the passing of Mr Bush's father, former US president George H. W. Bush, who died last Friday aged 94.

    PM Lee, who was attending the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, said in a Facebook post yesterday that he was saddened to hear of the death of the statesman.

    "He represented the finest of the Greatest Generation, and served his country with courage, devotion, compassion and humility. He never lost his sense of adventure, and even went skydiving to celebrate his 90th birthday!" PM Lee said.

    "I remember his state visit to Singapore in 1992, when I was his Minister-in-Attendance. His was the first visit by a US President to Singapore. President Bush and my father knew each other well, and he was a warm and gracious host when my father visited the US in 1982.

    "President Bush was a dedicated statesman, and at the same time a devoted husband and father. My thoughts are with his family."

From there, Mr Bush's casket will be taken to Washington on board Mr Trump's presidential aircraft - in what the US leader called "a special tribute that he deserves very much". The former president will lie in state in the US Capitol until Wednesday ahead of a state funeral at the National Cathedral.

Mr Bush's remains will be taken back to Texas late on Wednesday, where he will lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston with a funeral service the next day preceding his internment at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station. He will make his final journey aboard a funeral train.

At the presidential library on Saturday, people came to sign the memorial book or lay flowers at the feet of his statue.

"We wanted to come here and at least respect senior George Bush because he was a great president, and a great human being," said well-wisher Bhoumin Mehta, from Sugar Land, south-west of Houston.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'US mourns ex-president George H.W. Bush's death'. Print Edition | Subscribe