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State Funeral of George H.W. Bush in Houston. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 6, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FRIEND OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Because our glory, George, was to have had you as our president and as such a friend.

GEORGE P. BUSH, GRANDSON OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Good morning. Today, I stand before you as the oldest grandson of the man I simply knew as Gampy. George Herbert Walker Bush was the most gracious, most decent, most humble man that I will ever know.

We are here to give thanks for his extraordinary life, but I would like to talk about some of the things that he was thankful for. The things that to him mattered most.

My grandfather was thankful for his family. When he began running for president in 1988, my grandfather released a campaign book outlining his views for the future. The book opened with a letter to a grandson. It was addressed to me and recounted some of our recent experiences together in Maine.

"P.," the letter read, "I have been thinking about it a lot. The most fun was the big rock boat, climbing out on it, watching you and well playing on it. Near the end of summer when the moon was full, the tides were high, there was that special day when it almost seemed like the boat was real."

In those few words, my grandfather said more about his life than I could ever tell you this morning. Here's a man gearing up for the role of a lifetime, and yet his mind went back to his family. This is a book about policy issues, and yet he still found time to write about an imaginary boat that he built with his grandson.

And in a typical day, he would wake up around 5:00 a.m. to review security briefings and grab his first coffee of the day. When the coast was clear, had the grandkids would try our best to snag a spot on the bed and nestle up between him and Gamy when they read the paper. We all grew up with my grandfather, a larger-than-life figure who would we catch fly fishing off the rocks of Maine, talking about where the blue fish were funning. He would be the first to host an intense horseshoe matchup among family, Secret Service, or any willing head of state. While encouraging trash talk like "power outage" if your horseshoe was short --


BUSH: -- or "Woodrow Wilson" if you're long and your shoe hit the wooden backstop.


His typical spread included barbecue, tacos, tamales, pork rinds with hot sauce, with a healthy complement of Blue Bell ice cream and Klondike bars.


Always the competitor, each night Gampy challenged all of the grandkids to the coveted first to sleep award.


In classic Gampy fashion, he would write letters of encouragement to us all, whether one of us had a hard semester at school, whether one of us and, for the record, not me, drove his "Fidelity" onto the rocks.


Or one of us, definitely not me, ended up in Gampy's crosshairs. I knew too much.

At the close of one summer, after he left public service, Gampy wrote an e-mail to us all saying, "The only thing wrong with the last five months is that none of you were here enough. Next year, promise this old Gampster you'll spend more time with us here by the sea. As you know, I had to give up fly fishing off the rocks in Maine. But there are plenty of wonderful things to do. I think of you all an awful lot. I just wonder how each of you is doing in school and in life. If you need me, I'm here for you because I love you very much.

In the Psalms God makes his promise with long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Today, we know that my Gampy did enjoy a long and extraordinary life and we know he's enjoying the beginning of his next life, rejoining those whom he lost but now by grace has found again.

My grandfather was thankful for his country. He was grateful to lead a country where people can go as far and as fast as their dreams can take them. A place where individuals working alone or in groups can help the condition of their fellow man on a voluntary basis. A bright hope for America he evoked so brilliantly when he spoke of a thousand points of light.

He often spoke about the timeless creed of duty, honor, country, the values that have sustained the republic for its over 240 years. But this wasn't something he just talked about. This was something he lived.

[11:35:02] Having flown 58 combat missions in the Pacific and having been shot down and rescued at sea, he never saw his own heroism as being any greater than anyone else who has worn the uniform. I know this because I have experienced it personally. He was proud when Walker joined the Marine Corps, when I joined the Navy, and even prouder when we served overseas. Our service never compared to his, yet we could never convince him of that.

In our times together, our big, wonderful, and competitive family saw the personal goodness that lead to his recognized historical greatness. He left a simple yet profound legacy to his children, to his grandchildren, and to this country. Service. Undoubtedly, when the last words are written on him, they will certainly include this. That the fulfillment of a complete life cannot be achieved without service to others.

You should know that my grandfather was thankful for his God. He once told us as the grandkids, God is good, but his love has a cost. We must be good to one another. It was his faith, his love for others, that fulfilled him, that drove him, that led him to a life of public service.

Here in Houston, at a prayer breakfast, he once reflected on his time on the deck of the submarine "Finback", which rescued him after he was shot down in World War II. To get some fresh air, he went on the deck, stood the watch, looked out in the dark. He said, "The sky was clear. The stars were brilliant like a blizzard of fireflies in the night. There was a calm inner peace. Halfway around the world in a war zone, a calm inner peace. God's therapy."

Today, after 94 years, the heavy hand of time has claimed the life of my Gamps. But in death, as in life, my grandfather has won. For he has exchanged his earthly burdens for a Heavenly home and is at peace.

Yes, George Herbert Walker Bush is the most gracious, most decent, most humble man that I will ever know. And it's the honor of a lifetime to share his name.

God bless you, Gampy. Until we meet again. Maybe out on the rock boat we built together.

ELLIE LEBLOND SOSA, GRANDDAUGHTER OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: The first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all of my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things. Hopes all things, endures all things.

GEORGIA GRACE KOCH, GRANDDAUGHTER OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I become an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face-to-face. Now I know only in part, then I will know fully even as I have been fully known.

SOSA & KOCH: And now faith, hope, and love abide these three. And the greatest of these is love. The word of the Lord.

CROWD: Thanks be to God.

[11:40:04] REV. DR. RUSSELL LEVENSON JR, ST. MARTIN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: A favorite hymn of the president's, "Eternal Father Strong to Save." We invite you to turn to page seven. We'll sing the first two verses before the Gospel, the last two after the Gospel.


LEVENSON: Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.

CROWD: Thanks be to God.

REV. MARTIN J. BASTIAN, ST. MARTIN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him. Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? She said to him, yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the son of God, the one coming into the world. The Gospel of the Lord.

CROWD: Thanks be to God.


[11:45:09] LEVENSON: Would you bow your head for prayer? Almighty God, the source of all life, may our eyes and our hearts, this day, give thanks for this remarkable life. May our eyes and our hearts turn to you as did the heart of this great man. In Christ's name I pray, amen.

CROWD: Amen.

LEVENSON: A few days before Barbara Bush's death, I was called to the Bush home. And the president asked me to pray with her. I went and knocked on her door, and Barbara answered, " Hello, Russ. I'm not checking out yet."


We talked for a bit. I asked permission to anoint her head with oil. And pray with her. And we did. We prayed. I left and then she called me to come back in. "Bar, are you OK," I said. She said, "Yes. Just tell him I adore him."

Today, we're gathered to celebrate the life of a man that we all adored. At the beginning of a journey that began June 12th, 1924, George Herbert Walker Bush was born into the cradle of a loving family that held fast to the values of friendship and family and faith, of integrity, honesty, and loyalty, of character, courage, and service. Now at the end of that journey, that cradle that sustained him throughout his 94 years of life has released him into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father. The end depends on the beginning. And this is a good ending. Because from the very beginning, George Bush was committed to a life not for himself but for others.

And so we gather today charged with three tasks, saying good-bye, giving our thanks, and lifting up our lives to hope. Bidding farewell is the hardest of these tasks because we must acknowledge that the world is not the same without this great man. The tectonic plates of our world have shifted.

In today's world, we sometimes recoil at the complex emotions instead of shedding tears of grief that honor our loved ones. Tears honor those we love. George Bush was never afraid to shed tears. And so today, I bid you to follow his example.

We also gather to give thanks for the actions of this incredible public servant who improved the lives of so many around the world, across the nation, and in our great state of Texas and our beloved city of Houston. Each of us gathered here today join untold millions around the globe to mourn the death of one of history's greatest leaders.

But we have lost more than a leader. He, like his wife of over 70 years, Barbara, had that unique ability to make you feel like he was your best friend, and you were his. And he pulled it off with charm and humility and humor, with few if any rivals. So however you do it today, whether through quiet meditation or tearful remembrance, give thanks his life brushed up against yours.

Good-bye, thank you, but there's one more thing we come to do. And that is to lift up our lives to hope. What do I mean by that? Well, president Bush was a man of faith. A faith that sustained him in this life and now has brought him new life. The president and Barbara Bush were devoted and active members of this church, St. Martin's, for over 50 years. In a talk the president gave here in 1982, he spoke of his love for St. Martin's, his memories of teaching Sunday school and serving coffee and worshipping here.

This is what he said. I remember sitting in the back and how my pew wiggled and shook as our four boys and sometimes Dora got the giggles. And he added, "I don't want to hold it over the rest of you, but how many of you can say of the Christmas pageant my grandson was a shepherd in 1980 and his sister an angel both in the same year." As he was giving this talk, Barbara spoke to him and said, did it ever occur to you they made it because you had just been elected vice president?"


[11:50:32] But there was a deeper purpose in his faith. In an open letter to clergy across the United States just before his inauguration, the President-Elect Bush wrote, "Worship is basic to my own life. Our family has endeavored to uphold our faith by participation in the life of our church." In an address two years into his presidency he recalled President

Lincoln's response at the height of the Civil War when asked if he thought the Lord was on Lincoln's side. Lincoln responded, "My concern is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God's side."

Make no mistake about it, George Bush was on God's side. That's why together we carefully chose the lessons for this service, which I hope you will take home and read. The lessons that speak of the love and comfort of God and the hope of life eternal given to us through his son, Jesus Christ.

Martin of Tours is the patron's saint of this parish. He is best known for tearing his cloak in two to cover a barely dressed beggar. He did so impulsively, instinctively, knowing it was the right thing to do. Only later was it revealed to him in a dream that his selfless act had clothed Christ himself.

Those of us fortunate to worship with George and Barbara Bush witnessed a similar selflessness. As we worshipped together, they never made a show or a fuss of arriving or worshipping or leaving. They loved to spend time with the members here. They had a favorite spot right over there. But if they arrived and someone had beat them to it, they never created a problem. And particularly crowded days, Christmas and Easter, they often relinquished their seats to a mother overloaded with children or a son coming with his elderly parents.

One particularly cold day as the president came in the back, he was met by an usher who didn't have on an overcoat. "Aren't you cold," the president asked? The young man said, "I'm fine." But before he could finish his sentence, the president whipped off his own coat and placed it around the gent's shoulders and he walked in to worship with a smile and without another word.

George Bush loved our Lord and knew our Lord loved him. It was that connection that birthed in the 41st president a desire to serve.

A few years ago, the president and I discussed his deteriorating health. At the time, he didn't know how the struggle would end. He put a question to me about as simply as anybody could, he said, what do you think Heaven is like? It was a confident statement. One that bespoke of a resolute faith. He didn't want to know if there was a Heaven or whether he would be there when the end came. Instead, he wanted to know what it was like. He was ready for Heaven. And Heaven was ready for him.

My guess is that on December 30th when the president arrived in Heaven that Barbara was standing there with her hands on her hips, saying, "What took you so long?"


Then a big old Texas-sized hug from his wife and daughter with the words, "We adore you."

His very first act after being sworn into office as the 41st president was to lead our nation in prayer.

As the end depends on the beginning and as we say our goodbyes, I want to invite you to pray in honor and thanksgiving in celebration of this man that we know and love, this man we adore.

[11:55:01] Would you bow your heads? May his prayer -- this was his prayer on the day of his inauguration, his first act as president. Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank you for your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes it continuance likely. Make us strong to do your work, willing to heed and hear your will, and write on our hearts these words, use power to help people, for we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor name. There's but one just use of power and it is to serve people. Help us remember, Lord. Amen.

JOE BONSALL, MEMBER, OAK RIDGE BOYS: (INAUDIBLE) -- and it's an honor. We first sang for him in October of 1983 on the lawn of the White House when he was vice president. He said fellas -- he always called us "fellas" -- will you sing me a few songs? I'm a big fan. For decades, we have sang for him. And this is again a real honor to be here.

What a lot of people may not know is he fancied himself to be a good bass singer.


He was not.


We will sing for our president.



LEVENSON: In the Episcopal Church, which is the president's tradition, we stand to say things we believe. So with the resurrection of life eternal, please turn to page four and let us recite the Apostle's creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty. Maker of Heaven and earth.