Washington: US President Donald Trump and wife Melania will attend the funeral of George H.W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral, the White House said, after the late president lies in state in the US Capitol.
"The President will designate Wednesday, December 5th as a National Day Of Mourning. He and the First Lady will attend the funeral at the National Cathedral," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Trump and the Bush family have had a thorny relationship, including Trump's treatment of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush - once seen as a natural front-runner for the Republican nomination - during the 2016 primaries. Trump repeatedly dismissed his competitor as "low energy," and Bush was one of the first to drop out of the primary race.
Bush, the longest-living president in US history, died at his home in Houston late Friday night, aged 94. In his one term in the White House he fashioned a restrained response to the Soviet Union's collapse and assembled the multinational coalition that liberated Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion.
State funerals are multi-day events consisting of three stages, starting with ceremonies within the state in which the honoree resided, continuing in the nation's capital, and ending where the individual has chosen to be interred. An official schedule was released on Saturday.
Bush's remains will be transported on Monday from Ellington Field in Houston to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Air Force One. There'll be a bicameral arrival ceremony at the US Capitol at 5pm on Monday, and he'll lie in state in the Capital Rotunda, with the public invited to pay respects from Monday evening until Wednesday morning.
Bush's funeral at the National Cathedral is scheduled for 11am on Wednesday, and afterward his remains will make the return trip from Andrews back to Houston. The former president will lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where a second service will be held on Thursday. He'll be interred later on Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum on the grounds of Texas A&M University in College Station, after making the final leg, from Spring, Texas, by train.
Years of planning
"This state funeral is a culmination of years of planning and rehearsal to ensure the support the military renders President Bush is nothing less than a first-class tribute," said Major General Michael L. Howard, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region commanding general.
By tradition, U.S. financial markets close on the national day of mourning. The New York Stock Exchange will observe a minute of silence on Monday to honor Bush and plans to be closed on the official day of mourning designated by Trump, said Kristen Kaus, a spokeswoman for the exchange. Other markets are expected to follow suit.
Trump didn't attend the funeral in April of Bush's wife, former first lady Barbara Bush. At the time, the White House said the decision was "to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service." Sitting presidents often don't go to services for former first ladies; Melania Trump represented her husband.
'He's a blowhard'
In a 2016 interview, the elder Bush said of Trump, "I don't know much about him, but I know he's a blowhard. And I'm not too excited about him being a leader." In 2017's "The Last Republicans," author Mark Updegrove wrote that Bush, a quintessential Republican, had voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Barbara Bush told CBS in an interview in 2016 that "I don't know how women can vote" for Trump, based on his comments about women.
Trump in a statement on Saturday referenced the "thousand points of light" in praise of the positive impact of volunteerism that Bush spoke about during a 1988 speech to the Republican National Convention, and again in his 1989 inaugural address.
But in July, during a campaign rally in Montana, Trump used "thousand points" as a punchline: "The thousand points of light, what the [expletive]was that by the way? Thousand points of light, what did that mean, does anyone know?"
Trump tweeted early Saturday that the former president exuded "absolute joy for life and true pride in his family."
The president said he spoke on Saturday with the elder Bush's son, former President George W. Bush, as well as Jeb Bush, and offered condolences on behalf of himself, the First Lady, and the entire country. Trump canceled a press conference at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires "out of respect for" the Bush family and the former president.
"I met him on numerous occasions," Trump told reporters. "He was a terrific guy and he'll be missed and he led a full life and an exemplary life."