On November 30, 2018, George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, died at his home in Houston, Texas, seven months after the death of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush. Bush was the first former president to die since Gerald Ford in 2006; at the age of 94 years and 171 days, Bush was the longest-lived U.S. president in history. His death resulted in Jimmy Carter becoming the oldest living former President of the United States; Carter is also 94, having been born four months after Bush in 1924.
Shortly after news broke of Bush's death, President Donald Trump declared a National Day of Mourning and ordered all flags "throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions" lowered to half staff for 30 days after his death. The state funeral of George H. W. Bush was the official funerary rites conducted by the Government of the United States. They occurred over a period of three days from December 3–6, 2018.
Following the death of his wife Barbara in April 2018, Bush continued to deal with a variety of health issues. He was hospitalized a day after her funeral in critical condition with a blood infection, but he was eventually stabilized and released. In May, a month before his 94th birthday, he was briefly admitted to a hospital in Maine due to low blood pressure. Released after about two weeks, he returned to Houston.
In late November, Bush's health began to decline again. He received former President Barack Obama at his home for what was described as a "private visit" on November 27. By November 28, he had stopped eating and did not leave his bed, telling his medical staff he did not want to return to the hospital. James Baker, former Secretary of State and a longtime friend of Bush, reported that Bush's condition had improved by the morning of November 30, as he had began eating again and was able to sit up from his bed and converse with others. According to Baker, Bush's last meal consisted of three soft-boiled eggs, a cup of yogurt, and two fruit drinks.
By night on November 30, his health again worsened and death was imminent. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan came and sang two songs for Bush, as his family and friends gathered at the household to say their goodbyes. Bush's last words were "I love you too", spoken to his son, former President George W. Bush, over a speaker phone. Shortly after that conversation, at 10:10 p.m. Central Standard Time, Bush died at the age of 94, with Baker describing his death as "peaceful" and adding "If those things could be sweet, it was sweet".
Within hours of his death, the former president's office issued a statement indicating that funeral arrangements would be announced "as soon as practical". The exact cause of death was not immediately announced.
I do further appoint December 5, 2018, as a National Day of Mourning throughout the United States. I call on the American people to assemble on that day in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President George H.W. Bush. I invite the people of the world who share our grief to join us in this solemn observance.
A gun salute is fired at Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall on December 3, 2018. Memorial gun volleys were fired at 30 minute increments from sunrise to sunset at all U.S. military installations the Monday following Bush's death.
A VC-25 of the 89th Airlift Wing departs Ellington Field, Texas on December 3, 2018 carrying the remains of George H.W. Bush to Washington for the state funeral.
The casket carrying George H.W. Bush's remains arrives at Joint Base Andrews on December 3, 2018.
At 12:49 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 1, President Donald Trump tweeted that he and Melania Trump's "hearts ache with his loss and we, with the entire American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family". Former President Barack Obama said in a statement that "George H. W. Bush's life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey." Former President Bill Clinton sent a statement that "Hillary and I mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush, and give thanks for his great long life of service, love, and friendship. I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood." Former President Jimmy Carter mourned his death on Saturday, saying his administration was "marked by grace, civility, and social conscience." Former Vice PresidentDan Quayle said that "the world mourns the loss of a great American" and that he had often told his children to look to Bush as a role model. Former Vice President Al Gore issued a statement calling Bush a "man of integrity".Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston – where Bush resided at the time of his death – said that he joined "Houstonians in mourning the death of George Herbert Walker Bush and expressing heartfelt condolences to his children and the rest of the Bush family".
Kazakhstan: President Nazarbayev sent a message that "The people of Kazakhstan will always remember George H.W. Bush as a wise politician who did a lot to establish and strengthen bilateral friendly relations and was one of the first global leaders to recognize Kazakhstan's independence,On behalf of the people of Kazakhstan and on my own behalf I extend my condolences to you and the people of United States."
Ukraine: President Petro Poroshenko tweeted that "The former US President George W. Bush passed away. True leader and statesman. This man - the legend, under whose presidency the world saw the end of the Cold War. This man - the era, who then witnessed the restoration of Ukraine’s independence."
UN: Guterres said in his statement that “George H. W. Bush worked productively with and through the United Nations. Across the years I was consistently impressed by his compassion, instinct for moderation and commitment to public service. At this time of loss, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the Government and people of the United States.”
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 National 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 the United States' National Day of Mourning, December 5.
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.
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)
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.
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.
^"Former US presidents, Queen Elizabeth, the Dalai Lama, and more react to the death of former president George H.W. Bush". The world has lost a statesman and a leader who was an example to us all. I personally have lost a friend, I will never forget the role he played in making Europe a safer and more united place following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. ... President Bush's calmness, leadership and close personal relationships with Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev were decisive in restoring peace and freedom back to so many people across our Continent. We Europeans will forever remember this. ... [served his country] with honor, bravery and dignity. ... I personally have lost a friend.
^"Remarks by President Trump and Chancellor Merkel of Germany Before Bilateral Meeting". The White House. Retrieved December 5, 2018. I mourn George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, as the chancellor of the German Federal Republic but also as a German who, without the results of his policies, would hardly be standing here. ... And he’s the father, or one of the fathers, of the German unification, and we will never forget that.
^"Pope Francis sends condolences to Bush's family". WKRG. December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018. [Francis prays that the Bush family] finds strength and peace as it prepares to bid farewell..."; [Parolin said] "Commending President Bush's soul to the merciful love of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace.
^Day, Brian (December 1, 2018). "Kuwait Sends Respects to George H.W. Bush". KTLA. Archived from the original on December 1, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018. condolences to George W. Bush and to President Donald Trump. ... [noted Bush's efforts to] create a new international order based on justice and equality among nations. ... never forgot the Kuwaiti people and will remain in their memory.
^"George Bush: Buhari, Obasanjo, Send Condolences To United States – THEWILL". thewillnigeria.com. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018. [Buhari said] the passing of George H.W. Bush is a loss to the entire world, not just America, especially the many people he inspired."; "[Obasanjo said] President Bush's death is a loss not only to his immediate family and to the United States of America but also to the entire world.
^December 2018, Published 4 days ago on 03. "Panama mourns passing of Bush, who ordered country's invasion in 1989 - Malay Mail". www.malaymail.com. Retrieved December 7, 2018. expresses its profound condolences to the Bush family, the government of the United States of America, as well as its people ... [the government] conveys its deepest condolences and shares its hope that the strength that characterizes the Bush family and the American people will make it possible to overcome this moment of pain.
^Orellana, Faye. "Malacañang extends condolences to US, Bush family". Archived from the original on December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018. The Palace is deeply saddened ... we wish to convey our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Bush, as well as to the government and the people of the United States
^"Singapore leaders send condolences over death of former US president George HW Bush". Retrieved December 3, 2018. [Yacob said] steadfast service to his country will continue to inspire generations to come."; "[Loong said] Bush will be remembered for his statesmanship in bringing about a peaceful end to the Cold War, and cementing America’s leadership in the world."; "[Tong said he was] a man of incredible fortitude and immense conviction
^"His Majesty pays tribute to Bush Senior". Bangkok Post Public Company Limited. December 6, 2018. Retrieved December 7, 2018. In profound sadness, the people of Thailand and I join all our American friends in mourning the passing ... A much loved leader of his countrymen who devoted his life to public service, former president Bush was equally admired as a world statesman who helped shape and determine the course of peace, security
^"The Latest: Iran notes death of President George H.W. Bush". Charlotte Observer. Associated Press. December 1, 2018. Archived from the original on December 1, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018. He was in fact the first American President that I was privileged to meet. I recall being deeply touched by your father's concern for the Tibetan people and the situation in Tibet. It is truly admirable to have lived over 94 years. While nothing can replace the loss of a father, we can rejoice in the fact that his was a meaningful life, dedicated to public service. I commend your parents for encouraging their children, including you my dear friend, to devote yourselves to the service of others.
^Ford, Kaelyn (December 1, 2018). "World leaders remember George H.W. Bush". ABC News. Archived from the original on December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018. [The Queen said] It was with sadness that I learned of the death ... a great friend and ally ... a patriot, serving his country with honour and distinction in Office and during the Second World War. Prince Philip and I remember our days in Texas in 1991 with great fondness. My thoughts and prayers are with President Bush's family and the American people.
^"Vietnamese Ambassador pays respects to former US President George H.W.Bush". vietnamplus.vn. December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018. Vietnamese Government and people are in grief over the passing of the 41st US President. ... extended the Vietnamese Government and people's deepest condolence to the US Government and people, particularly to Bush's family. ... long-term strategic vision and strong leadership ... helped to lay a firm foundation for the normalization of the two countries' relations and later friendship and cooperation. Vietnamese people always remember Bush's visit to Vietnam in 1995 after the two countries established their diplomatic relations.