Thousands Cheer Along Bush's Funeral Train

And take rocks, pressed coins as souvenirs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2018 3:40 PM CST
Thousands Cheer Along Bush's Funeral Train
Guests are seated for a funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Thousands waved and cheered along the route as funeral train 4141—for the 41st president—carried George HW Bush's remains toward their final resting place in Texas on Thursday, his last journey as a week of national remembrance took on a decidedly personal feel in an emotional home state farewell. Some people laid coins along the tracks that wound through small town Texas so a 420,000-pound locomotive pulling the nation's first funeral train in nearly half a century could crunch them into souvenirs. Others snapped pictures or crowded for views so close that police helicopters overhead had to warn them back. The scenes reminiscent of a bygone era were a far cry from a serious and more somber tone at an earlier funeral service at a Houston church, where Bush's former secretary of state and confidant for decades, James Baker, addressed him as "jefe," Spanish for "boss," the AP reports.

Following the funeral, as the motorcade carrying Bush's remains sped down a closed highway from the church to the train station, construction workers on all levels of an unfinished building paused to watch, while a man sitting on a ferris wheel near the aquarium in downtown Houston waved. Bush's remains were later loaded onto a special train in a car fitted with clear sides so people could catch a glimpse of the casket as it rumbled by. The train traveled about 70 miles in two-plus hours—the first presidential funeral train journey since Dwight D. Eisenhower's remains went from Washington to his native Kansas 49 years ago—to the family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University, where Bush will be buried Thursday during a private service. (Click for more from Thursday's service, or moments of humor from Wednesday's service.)

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