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

Dallas Lajimodiere is wanted by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Man wanted by Abbotsford Police domestic violence unit

Dallas Lajimodiere has three arrest warrants, including for assault with a weapon

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Grade 6 students at Eugene Reimer Middle School have been participating in the Equity Backpack Project. (Submitted photo)
Equity Backpack Project in Abbotsford addresses inclusion and anti-racism

Grade 6 teacher Nerlap Sidhu says she wants students to develop ‘strong sense of self’

The UFV Cascades women’s basketball program has announced the signing of Langley’s Esther Allison and Edmonton’s Charley Arnold for 2021. (UFV Cascades photo)
Langley’s Allison, Edmonton’s Arnold signed by UFV Cascades

Women’s basketball program adds pair of recruits for 2021, reporting to Abbotsford later this year

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read