Wednesday morning's funeral at the National Cathedral for President George H.W. Bush was dignified, powerful and moving. All three eulogies delivered by non-family members -- namely, presidential historian Jon Meacham, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and former US Senator Alan Simpson -- were outstanding, mixing humor with poignancy. But the most emotional remarks came from the departed president's eldest son, George W. Bush. Whenever I watch the funerals of dignitaries, I'm often struck by the ability of mourning loved ones to remain composed on such a massive stage. I'm not at all confident that I'd similarly manage to keep my grief at bay.
The 43rd president made it through most of his prepared speech without cracking, although he occasionally appeared to speed up his delivery, perhaps to stave off tears. But at the very end, as he spoke in very personal terms about his father's love, and as he described the celestial reunion of his parents and the daughter they lost at a tender age years ago, 'W' finally and understandably faltered:
"Through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you -- a great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have. And in our grief, let us smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin, and holding mom's hand again."
Absolutely beautiful, and the spontaneous applause that filled the grand church reflected an outpouring of empathy from the gathered thousands. I'll leave you with this:
With the memorial service finished, @JMeacham has given me permission to report that he had the chance to read that beautiful eulogy to President Bush before his death.— Willie Geist (@WillieGeist) December 5, 2018
After hearing his own eulogy, President Bush said, characteristically: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.” #Bush41