Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda starting Monday evening as Americans honor the life of the country’s 41st president.
The Capitol will be open for dignitaries and the public to pay their respects through early Wednesday, with visitors allowed to walk past Bush’s casket. He died in Texas, his home state, late Friday at the age of 94 after several years of failing health.
Bush, who served a single term in the White House 1989 to 1993, will receive a state funeral Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, followed by burial Thursday at his presidential library in Texas.
The White House announced Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump would attend the funeral.
In a Twitter comment, the U.S. leader said, «President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!»
James Baker, Bush’s former secretary of state and his friend of 60 years, told CNN on Sunday he considered Bush as «the most kind and considerate person I ever knew.»
He said Bush’s «quality of life had deteriorated a lot» in recent months, but that near the end he was able to talk by phone with his adult children, including former President George W. Bush.
Baker said the elder Bush’s last words were, «I love you, too,» spoken to the younger President Bush, the country’s 43rd president.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Wednesday has been designated as a national day of mourning, and that the White House flags have already been lowered to half staff to honor Bush.
«The president and first lady were notified late last night of President George H.W. Bush’s passing,» the statement said. «President Trump is scheduled to speak with President George W. Bush this morning and offer his condolences on behalf of himself, the first lady, and the entire country. A state funeral is being arranged with all of the accompanying support and honors. 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 in Washington, D.C.»
The New York Stock Exchange said it would be closed on Wednesday in honor of Bush.
State funerals are traditionally held for current or former presidents and other officials designated by the president.
According to the website, a state funeral is a seven- to 10-day event and consists of three stages: ceremonies within the state in which the official was in residence, ceremonies within Washington, D.C., and then ceremonies in the state in which the individual has chosen to be interred.