Bush Presidential Library reopens, offers free admission for visitors

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Producer

HOUSTON - The Bush Presidential Library and Museum reopened Friday, and the grave site where former President George H.W. Bush was buried next to his late wife and daughter will reopen Saturday.

Admission will be free both days so people can visit the late leader at his final resting place after a week of ceremonies honoring his life.

Thousands showed up Thursday for a final sendoff after Houston funeral of Bush as his funeral train traveled to College Station where he will be laid to rest.

America’s 41st president died late Friday at his home in the Tanglewood neighborhood. He was 94.

Family, friends, dignitaries and even some celebrities filed into St. Martin’s Episcopal Church for the private family funeral, which started with the crowd singing the national anthem.

Among the about 1,000 guests in attendance were: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; Jim McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack; Texans defensive end J.J. Watt; former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell; movie star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Chuck Norris.

RELATED: See the full guest list and hear from some of them

James Baker

James Baker, who served as secretary of state during the Bush administration, was the first to eulogize the late president. He started by saying he was about to do something of which Bush would not approve.

"Brag about you," Baker said to the laugh of the crowd.

Baker continued by recalling some of the accomplishments during Bush's four years as president. He said the late president understood that humility was the best way to celebrate global victories and that he maintained the courage of a peacemaker.

"George Bush never wavered," Baker said.

Baker said Bush usually described their relationship as one of big brother and little brother. He encouraged discussion, Baker said, but had an effective way of letting him know when the discussion had ended.

Baker, who maintained composure throughout his speech, became tearful as ended, saying the country was lucky to have Bush as its president.

George P. Bush

Bush’s grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George Prescott Bush, began his eulogy be recalling an imaginary boat in which they would sail.

He continued by talking about "gampy's" competitive streak, encouraging trash talk during a tough game of horseshoes.

The grandson invoked the late president's famous "a thousand points of light" speech while recalling the importance his grandfather placed on service to others.

"It's the honor of a lifetime to share his name," George Prescott Bush said as he concluded his remarks, saying he hopes to meet his grandfather in that imaginary boat again.

Country music

Many have said that the late president was a fan of country music and that was reflected in two performances at Thursday's funeral.

The Oak Ridge Boys, who performed at George H.W. Bush's campaign events and for years after his presidency ended, performed "Amazing Grace." One of the band members said they were fulfilling a promise made to the late leader.

"He fancied himself a bass singer," one of the band members said to the laughs of the crowd. "He was not."

Former President George W. Bush could be seen wiping away tears as Reba McEntire performed "The Lord's Prayer" set to piano.

Final journey

After the funeral, George H.W. Bush's casket was taken out of the church and loaded into a waiting hearse while a military band played "Hail to the Chief" and "Praise Ye the Lord." 

A motorcade escorted the hearse to a train station in Spring. There, a military band played "Hail to the Chief" and "America the Beautiful" while the late president's casket was placed aboard a Union Pacific train being pulled by locomotive 4141.

Hundreds of people lined railroad tracks leading out of Spring as the funeral train began it's 70-mile journey to College Station, where the former president will be laid to rest.

In Magnolia, one spectator said she turned out because of the civility George H.W. Bush represented. She said that civility is sorely lacking in America as of late.

In Navasota, a woman who moved to Texas from Britain said she felt overwhelmed by the show of support for the Bush family and the pageantry used to say farewell to a former president. 

"This is history and it made me cry," said another spectator in Navasota.

Scores of people -- some students and some parents of students -- lined the tracks in College Station, where the train will make its final stop.

Burial

"Hail to the Chief" was played as the casket of George H.W. Bush was carried off his funeral train in College Station and placed in a waiting hearse around 3:50 p.m. As the band played the "Aggie War Hymn," the Bush family looked on with their hands over their hearts.

About 1,700 people were expected to line the route a motorcade took to transport the former president's casket to his final resting place. A missing man formation flown by military aircraft flew over the burial site around 4:20 p.m.

The Aggie Corps of Cadets were on hand to welcome the former president to his final resting place.

Office of George H.W. Bush-Eric Draper

George H.W. Bush was interred at his presidential library next to former first lady Barbara Bush and their daughter, Robin.

Office of George H.W. Bush-Eric Draper

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