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'A Life of Service to His Country': Washington to Pay Respects, Bid Farewell to George H.W. Bush

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The body of President George Herbert Walker Bush arrived at Elliot Field, where an aircraft will then transport it Washington, DC, to lie in state in the Capitol rotunda until Wednesday.

Bush died late Friday night at his Houston home.  His wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, died in April.

Former presidents and other major public figures mourned his passing.

“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service_to be, in his words, “a thousand points of light” illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world.” — President Donald Trump.

“George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.” — Former President Barack Obama.

(He) “was a man of the highest character. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41′s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad.” — Former President George W. Bush

“George Bush was a great American, an extraordinary wartime leader, and a good friend.  I mourn the passing of a great American, and wish his family well.”  — Pat Roberston, founder, The Christian Broadcasting Network

Today, CBN News looks back on Bush's long life of service.

The 41st commander in chief left his mark on nearly every area of government as president, vice president, ambassador, CIA director and a member of Congress. 

Later in life, he even affected fashion trends by sporting his trademark funky socks, and he endeared himself to Americans by pulling stunts like skydiving to celebrate his 90th birthday. 

Jumping out of planes came naturally to Bush. On his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the military.  And when he received his wings, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy.  

During World War II, he flew 50 combat missions. On his last mission, he was shot down by Japanese fighters.  He ejected and extraordinary film footage shows his rescue from the Pacific by sailors aboard a US submarine. 

In 1980, he ran for the Republican nomination for president but lost to Ronald Reagan, who made him his vice president -- a position that gave Bush an intimate look at the rise of conservatism in America. 

"His presidency was overshadowed in many ways by his predecessor which is understandable," his son and former President George W. Bush once said.

It's hard to forget these words which helped catapult him to the White House in 1988. 
"Read my lips," Bush said in his 1988 Republican nomination acceptance speech. "No new taxes."

But breaking that pledge as president led to his loss to Bill Clinton in 1992. 

In his inaugural address, he painted himself as a traditional man who valued hard work, discipline and goodness. 

"My first act as president is a prayer," President Bush said. "I ask you to bow your heads. Heavenly Father we bow our heads and thank you for Your love."

In 1996, he helped commission the Christian Broadcasting Network's flying hospital. 
This past April, Bush lost his beloved wife Barbara. Their union of 73 years is the longest presidential marriage in history. 

The couple had six children, and throughout hardship and triumph, the Bushes made family their priority. 

"We cannot hope only to leave our children only a bigger car, a bigger bank account - we must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent," Bush said. "A citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, his town better than he found it."
It's a goal George Herbert Walker Bush strove to achieve his entire life. 

Pat Robertson introduces George H. W. Bush during Operation Blessing dedication. Watch below.

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About The Author


As Senior Washington Correspondent for CBN News, Jennifer covers the intersection of faith and politics - often producing longer format stories that dive deep into the most pressing issues facing Americans today. A 20-year veteran journalist, Jennifer has spent most of her career covering politics, most recently at the White House as CBN's chief White House Correspondent covering the Obama and Trump administrations. She's also covered Capitol Hill along with a slew of major national stories from the 2008 financial crisis to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and every election in between. Jennifer