Former President George H.W. Bush’s casket is carried to the Special Air Mission 41 plane during a departure ceremony at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Huston, Texas, US on December 3, 2018. (Retuers)
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HOUSTON − A military honour guard loaded the body of former United States President George H.W. Bush onto Air Force One on Monday for a final trip to Washington and the start of four days of mourning the man who led the nation as the Cold War ended.
Cannons fired in tribute at a Texas Air National Guard base outside Houston where the 41st president’s flag-draped casket was loaded onto the presidential jet, called “Special Air Mission 41” for the flight to Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington.
His son, former President George W. Bush, was set to join family, friends and aides of the former executive for the flight.
The deceased Bush will lie in state at the US Capitol Rotunda from Monday through Wednesday, when a state funeral is scheduled at the National Cathedral.
Bush died at his Houston home on Friday night, seven months after his wife Barbara died. After services in Washington, there will be another funeral in Houston on Thursday followed by burial at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.
Bush served two terms as vice president under fellow Republican President Ronald Reagan before his own stint in the Oval Office from 1989 to 1993, a time that saw the end of the Cold War as well as the United States’ routing of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s army in the 1991 Gulf War.
He failed to win a second term after breaking a no-new-taxes pledge.
Trump has ordered the federal government to close on Wednesday and both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be closed on Wednesday in observance. US bond and options markets were also due to be closed, with energy and foreign exchange markets expected to remain open.
Remembrances to George and Barbara Bush sprang up in the neighbourhood where he made his home, at a memorial to President Bush at a city park and at the airport named in his honour.
Christy Smith paused over the weekend to pay her respects to President Bush at a bronze statue of him at a Houston park.
“He set a good example for all of us,” said Smith, 39. “He always was caring and treated people equally.” (Reuters)