Former President George H.W. Bush once wondered if anyone would come to his memorial, but following his death, people stood in line for hours to pay their respects at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, shared on Twitter that in 2011, the former president was briefed about the plans for his funeral and lying in state. During the briefing, McGrath said, Bush asked, “Do you think anyone will come?”
McGrath explained that the question was asked with the president’s “typical humility.” Seven years later, people waited hours to say their final goodbye to America’s 41st president.
WJLA reporter Tom Roussey shared footage of the line waiting to get into the Capitol on Twitter. He explained that people were waiting three and a half hours in 36-degree weather to honor the former president.
“The lines outside the Capitol are unbelievable right now,” he wrote on Twitter.
Bush passed away on Friday at the age of 94, about eight months after his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, 92, died. His cause of death is still unknown, although he battled multiple illnesses, including vascular parkinsonism during the later years of his life.
“President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!”
On Monday, Bush was flown aboard Air Force One from Houston to Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where an arrival ceremony took place. The former president was then transported to the U.S. Capitol, where he was lying in state from Monday evening until Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. EST.
Swarms of people formed a somber procession on Tuesday to pay their respects to the former president. Wyatt Glennon, a seventh grader from Northwest Washington, told the New York Times that his parents thought they should come. Even though Glennon wasn’t alive during Bush’s time in office, he left a note in the condolence book to thank the former president for his contribution to America.
“I don’t know much about his individual acts,” Glennon told The New York Times, “but I know that he was president of the United States, and that’s enough for me.”
Other attendees included late Senator John McCain’s wife, Cindy, current members of Congress and Colin Powell, who served as Bush’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ahead of the memorial, Powell applauded Bush for his kindness and humility, calling him the “perfect American.”
Also paying his respects at Bush’s flag-draped coffin was former Senator Bob Dole. While the 95-year-old is largely confined to a wheelchair, when he was in front of the coffin, he rose and saluted his fellow World War II veteran.
“I believe there are certain qualities that veterans have and when Bush was president, I think about three-fourths of Congress were veterans and we would stick together and work together across the aisle,” Dole said on Saturday. “And President Bush was a bipartisan president. So we got quite a lot done.”
On Tuesday evening, members of the Bush family, including former President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, made their way to the Capitol. The family thanked visitors for coming and George W. cradled one woman’s 5-month-old daughter as the mother expressed her condolences.
Bush’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at 11 a.m. EST at Washington National Cathedral. Along with the former president’s family, former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will attend, as will Trump. The president’s son, George W. Bush, will deliver one of three eulogies.
After the funeral, Bush’s coffin will be flown back to Texas on Wednesday, where he will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church from 6:45 p.m. CST until Thursday at 6: a.m. CST. He will be buried at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M University.