By Arnie Leshin
No protests, no violence, not on this ride.
Slowly, the long yellow train made its way through the state of Texas that George Herbert WalkerBush loved. Crowds that turned out didn’t care about the rain, they only wanted to share thismoment.
Photos were clicking from the side of the railroad tracks, there were cheers, salutes, the American flag flowing everywhere, people even hugging as the train went by, many able to view the casket tucked in behind one of the non-covered windows nearby the car with the Red, White and Blue stars and stripes in full view.
There was old, there was young, there were all ages. I’m an oldie, and I voted in so many presidential elections, I can’t recall how many.
I do not remember when, following the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, there was a similar train trip from Washington D.C. that took him for burial in his birthplace of Hyde Park, N.Y.
But I do remember1969, when the train carrying the casket of President Dwight David Eisenhower made its way from the nation’s capitol to his burial place in his hometown in Kansas.
That was the last and only time since than, and it also traveled slowly and passed through all the towns on the route in respect for the former US Army General who commanded the troops in Europe.
When Senator Robert Kennedy was fatally shot in Los Angeles while campaigning for president, his casket rode from California to D.C. and after it landed, it was driven slowly to the capitol building while crowds assembled.
Six decades later, it was again America at its finest, the time to honor President Bush in the same organized, respected trip. He had once told his oldest son, George W, that he didn’t want to be remembered in this way, but the 43rd president and his family made the decision to go ahead with this.
It was a thing of beauty. The casket was slowed carried from the White House rotunda where it had been viewed by many in the days since he passed away last Friday. It was transferred to a limo, than placed on the train and the ride became. It had all Bush family members aboard.
It arrived at 2:45 p.m. Texas time. Bush had graduated from Yale University, but Texas A & Min Houston was a favorite of his. He was a big football fan of the Aggies, he wanted his library to be there, as well as his burial.
There, the Bush family, personal friends and political friends (he didn’t have many enemies), were waiting as the military carried the casket as the national anthem was played.
Hopefully, some National Football League players and some from other sports were watching. No kneeling here, just respect for the country, the flag, and statesman Bush.
This was the America that Bush loved. He was kind and decent to everybody, treated his presidential staff as family. Never forgot birthdays.
George W was emotional throughout. He often wiped away tears as he stood with Laura, the former first lady.
He spoke with his father for the last time Friday morning. He called the hospital and the doctor told him there’s not much time, that he only had a few minutes. So his son took the phone and said, “I love you, dad,” to which his dad was able to answer, “I love you, too, son.”
God Bless America for how it provided the love, kindness and respect that George H.W Bush was known for. His motto could have been “peace on earth and good will to man.”
RIP, No. 41.