Gun salutes and memorial musters
U.S. Army Regulation 600–25 provides that United States Army posts are to fire continuous artillery volleys at 30 minute intervals from sunrise to sunset the day after official notice is received of the death of a former president of the United States. As also provided for by regulation, the corps of cadets of the United States Military Academy are to be immediately assembled to be officially informed of the death by the superintendent.
At mid-morning on December 1, President Donald Trump proclaimed December 5 to be a national day of mourning. The proclamation further decreed that American flags "on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions" be lowered to half staff until December 30, 2018. In addition, all agencies of the United States Government throughout the United States were ordered closed on the day of mourning and the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would postpone hearing oral arguments in Gamble v. United States which had been previously scheduled for that day.
The United States Postal Service suspended regular mail deliveries, retail services and administrative office activity on December 5 as part of the national day of mourning although there was limited package delivery to avoid any setbacks for the Holiday season. All of the United States' principal financial exchanges – including the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ – suspended trading for the duration of the day of mourning.
Her Majesty's Government issued instructions that all government offices in the United Kingdom were to lower the Union flag to half-mast on December 1, 2018. In Canada, flags on all federal buildings were ordered flown at half-mast on December 5.
On December 1 the Kuwait Towers displayed images of Bush in honor of his vital role in the Gulf War.
Two hours following the death of Bush, approximately 100 students at Texas A&M University gathered at the George Bush Presidential Library and proceeded to a nearby statue of Bush to pay respects. Later that day, on an overlook near the Bush Compound in Maine, people spontaneously gathered to lay flowers, among them including former University of Massachusetts president Jack M. Wilson. A makeshift memorial of flowers, flags, and cards was also created by members of the public outside the gates of Bush's Houston home.
The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas announced on December 1 that it would immediately lay out a book of condolence for members of the public to sign. Also on December 1, the city of Houston announced it would hold a memorial service in honor of Bush on the evening of December 3, 2018, at Hermann Square in front of the Houston City Hall with the Houston Symphony scheduled to provide music.
Moments of silence were observed at sporting events in the weeks following George H.W. Bush's death, including prior to the December 3 NFL game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, and before the December 9 Army-Navy Game, among others.
Prior to his death, Bush filed a 211-page document with the Military District of Washington, which contains a request for an aerial flyover of fighter jets in missing man formation by the United States Air Force during his state funeral as well as final interment and burial to occur at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. Bush also indicated that he did not want the presidential fanfare, "Hail to the Chief", to be performed during final interment and burial. In addition, Bush made plans for a national funeral service to be held at Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
The state funeral, as announced, occurred in three stages.
Air transport of Bush's remains occurred aboard a VC-25, tail number 29000, of the United States Air Force's 89th Airlift Wing operating under the call sign "Special Air Mission 41" (SAM41).
Stage One (Houston, Texas)
On the morning of December 3, 2018, the casket carrying Bush's remains was moved from Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home in Houston to a waiting hearse which then proceeded along a specially closed stretch of Interstate 610 to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. The hearse was escorted by Houston Police Department motorcycle outriders and arrived on the runway by approximately 11:45 a.m. Central Standard Time.
A brief ceremony was held on the apron for 100 invited guests, among them George P. Bush, prior to the casket's placement on the waiting "Special Air Mission 41" VC-25 which completed take off by 12:10 p.m. Former president George W. Bush accompanied the casket aboard the aircraft, and was joined by the late president Bush's service dog Sully.
Stage Two (Washington, D.C.)
At approximately 3:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 3, Special Air Mission 41 arrived at Joint Base Andrews. The casket containing Bush's remains was removed from the aircraft as the United States Air Force Band performed "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and a 21 gun salute was executed by the U.S. Army's Presidential Salute Battery. The casket proceeded through a ramp guard composed of U.S. armed forces personnel into a waiting Cadillac XTS Echelon hearse for transfer to the United States Capitol.
Bush lay in state in the United States Capitol rotunda from the evening of December 3 through the morning of December 5.
On December 5, at approximately 10:00am EST, the casket was transferred from the Capitol rotunda for funeral services at Washington National Cathedral. The officiating clergy included Michael Bruce Curry, Mariann Edgar Budde, Randolph Marshall Hollerith, and Dr. Russell Levenson, Jr. Rosemarie Logan Duncan was the master of ceremonies. Lauren Bush Lauren, Ashley Walker Bush, and Jenna Bush Hager were readers. Jan Naylor Cope provided the Intercession. Tributes were made by Jon Meacham, Brian Mulroney, Alan K. Simpson, and George W. Bush. Musical tributes were provided by United States Marine Orchestra, Armed Forces Chorus, United States Coast Guard Band, Michael W. Smith, and Ronan Tynan.
The hearse carrying Bush arrived at Andrews AFB at approximately 2:01pm EST and at 2:09pm EST transferred aboard VC25A 29000 via scissor truck as Bush family boarded Special Mission 41 and took of after 2:26pm EST.
Stage Three (Houston, Texas; Spring, Texas; College Station, Texas)
Bush's remains arrived at Ellington Field at December 5, 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time where they were greeted by a military escort and transported to St. Martin's Episcopal Church. The remains laid in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church until the following morning. A second funeral service for family and friends was held at 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time on December 6. Eulogies were delivered by President Bush's friend James Baker and grandson George P. Bush. Clergy participating in the service included church Rector Dr. Russell Levenson, Jr., Bishop of Texas C. Andrew Doyle, and former Bishop of Texas Claude E. Payne. During the service, The Oak Ridge Boys sang "Amazing Grace" and Reba McEntire sang "The Lord's Prayer."
After the church service, the remains were driven by hearse to the Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility. From there, they were transported by special railway funeral car to the George Bush Presidential Library for interment. The funeral train was led by Union Pacific 4141, an EMD SD70ACe locomotive painted to honor Bush. This was also the first time the remains of any US President had ever travelled on a funeral train since Dwight Eisenhower in 1969. A guard of honor formed by the Ross Volunteers, the Governor of Texas' military escort, attended the removal of the casket from the funeral train.
During interment, the United States Navy announced it would perform the largest funeral flyover in its history, with what the Navy described as an "unprecedented" 21 F/A-18 Hornets led by Captain Kevin McLaughlin, the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic whose own aircraft was painted in a special memorial livery. The flyover was known as the "missing man flyover," and featured 21 aircraft in a unique position. This was done as an honor to Bush's Navy pilot service during World War II. The interment ceremony was private; it was not filmed or broadcast on television at the advance request of the Bush family (the flyover, as well as the 21-gun salute and the performance of "Taps", that happened at the library grounds, was televised instead). Bush's remains were buried on the early morning of December 7 between the graves of his wife Barbara and his daughter Robin.
Throughout the day, all U.S. military posts equipped with artillery fired 21-gun salutes. Meanwhile, the Salute to the Union – 50 successive rounds of artillery fire – was performed by batteries at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Fort Drum, New York at 5:00 p.m., a custom traditionally marking the final interment of a former president.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, along with their respective wives, former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama, attended the funeral services. Also attending were Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, former vice presidents Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden, along with former second ladies Marilyn Quayle, Lynne Cheney, and Jill Biden. Presidential children in attendance included Lynda Bird Johnson Robb with Chuck Robb, Luci Baines Johnson with Ian Turpin, Tricia Nixon Cox with Edward F. Cox, Susan Ford, Chelsea Clinton, and Ivanka Trump with Jared Kushner. Former New York Gov. George Pataki, political adviser to George W. Bush Karl Rove, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who represented Bush's old House district, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and many other lawmakers attended as well.
International leaders attending these services include: Britain's Prince Charles and former Prime Minister John Major and the latter's wife Norma Major, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Polish President Andrzej Duda and former President Lech Wałęsa, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Taiwanese President of the Legislative Yuan Su Jia-chyuan, Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, former Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasser Al-Sabah, former Bermudian Premier John Swan, and Prince Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain.
Pallbearers and honorary pallbearers
As customary, pallbearers during each movement of the casket containing Bush's remains were drawn from personnel of the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard. In addition, honorary pallbearers were selected for most movements of the casket.
Stage 1 honorary pallbearers
Special agents of Bush's former United States Secret Service protective detail served as honorary pallbearers during the movement of the casket from the funeral home in Houston to the hearse that would transport it to Ellington Field.
Stage 2 honorary pallbearers
Sailors drawn from the crew of the United States aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush served as honorary pallbearers for the removal of the casket from Special Air Mission 41 at Joint Base Andrews. A further thirteen honorary pallbearers were selected for the transport of the casket from the hearse to the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, all of whom were former ship or strike group commanders of USS George H.W. Bush, including: Admiral John Aquilino, Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, Vice Admiral Nora Tyson, Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Rear Admiral David Thomas Jr., Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle, Rear Admiral Stephen Evans, Rear Admiral William Pennington, Rear Admiral Brian Luther, Rear Admiral Gregory Nosal, Captain Sean Bailey, and Captain Kevin O’Flaherty. Captain Sean R. Bailey, the ship's commanding officer at the time of Bush's death, was unable to serve as an honorary pallbearer as the vessel was making final preparations for deployment.
Stage 3 honorary pallbearers
Honorary pallbearers serving during the movement of the casket at points during Stage 3 included Charles F. Hermann (Scowcroft Chair in International Policy Studies at the Bush School of Government and Public Service),
Amy Sharp (president of the Texas A&M University Student Government Association), and former Texas A&M football coach R.C. Slocum.