Dec 6, 2018, 5:39 PM ET

President George H.W. Bush laid to rest next to wife, daughter

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The nation's farewell to President George H.W. Bush ended Thursday in his adopted home state of Texas, when, after a more intimate service for family and friends, he was buried where he had long hoped to be: next to his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, who broke their hearts when she died at age 3 of leukemia.

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After the church service, a presidential funeral train carried Bush's casket on a 70-mile final journey to the burial site, moving slowly at times as thousands of mourners, some saluting, many waving American flags, stood along the tracks in his honor.

The train pulled slowly into College Station and the president's flag-draped casket was then loaded by military pallbearers into a hearse, which took it to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library at Texas A&M University.

PHOTO: The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard into St. Martins Episcopal Church, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston.Mark Humphrey/AP
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard into St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston.

A burial ceremony there featured an unprecedented gesture from the U.S. Navy to mark Bush's wartime legacy -- the largest-ever 21-aircraft missing man formation.

According to a Bush family spokesperson, the late president, who had a signature pair of socks for seemingly every occasion, was buried in a pair showing Navy fighter planes flying in formation, honoring his days as a naval aviator, a lifelong source of pride.

PHOTO: The Bush family looks on as a joint military services honor guard carries the casket for former President George H.W. Bush from the Union Pacific funeral train at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, Dec. 6, 2018.Loren Elliott/Reuters
The Bush family looks on as a joint military services honor guard carries the casket for former President George H.W. Bush from the Union Pacific funeral train at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, Dec. 6, 2018.

“In addition to being our president, he was also one of our brothers, flying combat missions off aircraft carriers during World War II. His service to our Navy and nation merits a tribute of this magnitude,” Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in a statement.

The four days of services concluded with the Bush family walking behind the casket to a private graveside service in the late afternoon. "Taps" was played and the Navy hymn "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" was sung before Bush was laid to rest.

On his headstone read the simple inscription he once said was all he wanted: his U.S. Navy identification number and the words, "He loved Barbara very much."

The Thursday ceremonies began at the Texas funeral, where Bush was eulogized by his longtime best friend, James Baker, who became his secretary of state and was with him in his last hours.

He described Bush as "a truly beautiful human being."

"Man’s glory begins and ends with friends," Baker said of their many decades together. He began with an apology to a man he said was always humble, but always clear in his decisions.

"I'm about to do something you always hated — brag about yourself," he said. "I will do this because it must be done."

Speaking of a world in many ways now past - a time before presidential Twitter feeds - he called Bush a "charter member of the greatest generation," the "finest" one-term president the country ever had, and a man who believed in "humility toward and not humiliation of" his adversaries.

PHOTO: Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martins Episcopal Church, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston.David J. Phillip/Pool via AP
Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston.

Baker also poked fun, joking that during a friendly disagreement, Bush used what Baker said was his "effective way of ending a discussion:" 'Baker, if you're so smart, why am I president and you're not?'"

As he finished, he paraphrased the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, saying, "Our glory, George, was to have you as our president, and such a friend," then broke briefly into tears. As he walked back to his pew, he got a warm hug from former President George W. Bush.

George Prescott Bush, the late president's grandson and the son of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, followed Baker. Bush, who served in the Navy like his grandfather, shared memories of the good times the Bush grandchildren had with the man they knew as "Gampy."

PHOTO: Members of the public line the route to pay their respects as the train carrying former President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place passes by on Dec. 6, 2018 in Texas.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Members of the public line the route to pay their respects as the train carrying former President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place passes by on Dec. 6, 2018 in Texas.

Speaking at his father's emotional service in Washington on Wednesday, the 43rd president said the family took solace in knowing the elder Bush will be reunited with those who meant so much to him.

"So, through our tears, let us see the blessings of knowing and loving you – a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have," he said, choking up. "And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again."

PHOTO: Former President George W. Bush speaks during the funeral service for his father, former President George H. W. Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2018.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Former President George W. Bush speaks during the funeral service for his father, former President George H. W. Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2018.

H.W. Bush became a Texas transplant in the late 1950s after graduating from Yale University and leaving his home in a wealthy town in Connecticut, where he was raised. He moved his growing family to West Texas to learn the oil industry from the ground up, eventually deciding to run for Congress, embarking on his long career in politics.

PHOTO: The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush passes through Magnolia, Texas, Dec. 6, 2018, along the train route from Spring to College Station, Texas.David J. Phillip/Pool via AP
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush passes through Magnolia, Texas, Dec. 6, 2018, along the train route from Spring to College Station, Texas.

Before the Texas funeral began, he lay in repose at the St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, which the Bushes joined in 1959.

The Texas ceremonies were intended for about 1,200 friends of the family -- many of whom are said to hail from "west of the Mississippi" -- and included stars from the country music world Bush came to love: Reba McEntire sang "The Lord's Prayer" and the Oak Ridge Boys performed a rendition of "Amazing Grace."

PHOTO: Reba McEntire performs at funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martins Episcopal Church in Houston, Dec. 6, 2018.Jack Gruber/USA Today Network
Reba McEntire performs at funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Dec. 6, 2018.

During his homily, the rector of St. Martin's, the Rev. Dr. Russell Levenson, spoke of the never-ending love affair between George and Barbara Bush, married for 73 years.

He told a story about how one day, when he was going to visit the ailing president, he asked Barbara Bush if she wanted him to relay any message.

"Just tell him I adore him," he said she told him.

Saying of the late president, "He was ready for heaven, and heaven for him," Levenson said he could imagine Barbara Bush standing there with her hands on her hips, telling her husband, "What took you so long?"

Then, he said, she would say to him, "We adore you," and give him "a big 'ole Texas hug."

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  • oldschool

    This is out of control with a week of non stop reporting to the exclusion of real news and the slow motion following of not 1 but numerous transportation's of this poor dead presidents body by Hearst, train , plane and hand carried casket.Thankfully he can now rest.

  • FleurdiLisa

    George and Barbara Bush were regular Houstonians. They went out to eat, went to the theatre, sporting events, the park. They visited schools and hospitals. They talked to anyone who spoke to them - even if it meant rarely enjoying a meal all the way through without being interrupted. They not only attended St. Martin's, but they were part of the "welcome committee" on Sundays who would hand out coffee and donuts to parishioners between services.

    It's like we all lost a beloved neighbor. He just happened to be President once.

  • B Free

    I was in College Station. Such a wonderful tribute to this great American.

  • Dee

    I was in Magnolia, Texas today when President Bush passed through...what an awesome, emotional day. We will miss you President Bush. You were one of a kind.

  • GG™

    CAVU, Mr. President. I hope you are holding Barbara’s hand and playing with Robin.

  • Ted Mittelstaedt

    One thing I think the Founding Fathers forgot to put into the Constitution was a requirement that any President be a former military serviceman or woman. A C&C who has never served has no moral right to order servicepeople in to die.

  • Michael M

    The picture of the men standing in the bucket of the tractor and saluting is the one that got to me! May he RIP!

  • RJTexas

    God bless Sir.

  • Jamie Vetter

    Is this the longest funeral in the history of the world?

  • TexasVulcan

    Farewell 41. A life well-lived indeed. A life of public service, humility, competence and love.

  • Citizen123

    A fitting tribute to a life well lived. May you rest in peace.

  • Guest 99

    ABC news. You should be ashamed at the comments made by your staff during the funeral. THIS is why the USA has come to despise the media.

  • Verity Pendelton

    The whole state funeral from start to finish was amazing.

  • Nala

    the squatter in the oval office is not worthy to sit there

  • BeesKnees

    At least he's with Barbara again.

  • foldincaulfield

    President George H.W. Bush remembered as 'a truly beautiful human being' at Texas funeral

    Indeed, who could forget his beautiful "thousand points of light" in Iraq.

  • brubble

    Donny the other day again tried to make it all about him and tried to get spotlight by rolling in with a motorcade how pathetic and disrespectful. And during the reading of the Apostles Donny didn't participate. It went from Donny doesn't like to read anything longer than one page to reading only parts of it to none if it.

  • Indie6050

    Another of the "greatest generation" who we have lost. My dad served on the USS Missouri in WW2. Just coincidence that his ship bombarded Okinawa, some 25 years later I was stationed there while serving in the AF

  • Educated

    These Republicans in Congress continue to ignore this failed President's policies. They hate Obama more than they love the country.

  • Stephen Bishop

    Overkill. Too much ceremony. He was just a President.

  • BassPlyr73 Again

    Saw the plane yesterday circling for final approach. It's the closest I've ever come to seeing a President in person, and it was pretty moving.

  • Traveler1

    I only wish the country had seen the friend, father, person HW was in private. In public his patrician demeanor and what appeared to be aloofness from the lives of everyday Americans did more to cost him re-election than his no new taxes pledge.

    I remember watching him in news conferences and thinking to myself, "he just doesn't get it."

    If I remember correctly there was an incident when he went to a supermarket(food prices were on the rise) and it turned out he didn't have any money on him. His aides always paid for anything he bought.

    There is also evidence that he pardoned two people involved in Savings and Loan debacle to keep his son out of prison. He was, as we all are, imperfect.

    Yet, he was a loving. loyal husband, father and friend. That in itself is a wonderful legacy.

  • carrollfamily

    It is sad to lose such a noble man. Rest in peace