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

Salmon Arm RCMP nabbed two Calgary suspects in an allegedly stolen vehicle on Highway 1 on Nov. 22, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP use spike belts on Highway 1 to nab Calgary suspects

Arrests occur after Revelstoke RCMP clock allegedly stolen vehicle going faster than 160 km/h

Greg Rose spent several weeks working alongside Tammy VanSickle to ensure a smooth transition as he took over the business on Monday, Nov. 16. (Submitted)
The show goes on: Roxy theatre changes hands

It will remain a theatre says new manager Greg Rose

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

The person behind @revelstokecharm said this community provides good fudder for memes because there is a big concentration of people that don’t take themselves too seriously, and also a great concentration of people that take themselves way too seriously. (Instagram)
Review interviews the mysterious meme maker behind @revelstokecharm

The Instagram account is a popular page that parodies local happenings

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B&E, stolen car in Vernon lands Whitehorse man in cuffs

Suspect takes off on foot in attempts to evade arrest

Penticton Search and Rescue along with the Penticton Fire Department located and airlifted an injured 21-year-old female hiker Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (Mike Biden photo)
Penticton search and rescue airlift injured hiker off mountain

There has been an unprecedented amount of calls for search and rescue this year

RCMP stayed with the vehicle until it was towed to a secure lot. (Black Press file photo)
Armoured truck carrying millions of dollars crashes near Princeton

The incident occurred after the truck hit an elk on the road

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested at Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear mask, leave

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

BC SPCA member seen in an undated photo. (BC SPCA photo)
Cat found dead under suspicious circumstances near Kelowna

The domestic short-haired cat was found at a truck stop along Highway 33

Jennifer West, owner of Bean Scene North. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Anti-maskers yell at Kelowna café-owner who was holding her baby

Three maskless men entered Bean Scene North on Saturday afternoon looking for an argument, owner says

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Most Read