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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

Surrey-raised actor Michael Coleman in some of the roles he’s played since the mid-1990s. (submitted photo)
Chat with Robin Williams helped send Surrey’s Coleman into world of acting

‘For me, it was a game-changer,’ says co-founder of Story Institute acting school

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Friends and family of Paul Prestbakmo (from left: Barbara Calder, Leah Charles, Jimmy Slater, Angela Prestbakmo and Liz Prestbakmo) gather outside Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday (Jan. 26, 2021). (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey murder victim stabbed 42 times: pathologist

RCMP digital-evidence specialist also among witnesses

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms 1st death amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Most Read