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George H. W. Bush's funeral services stand as America's goodbye to the Greatest Generation

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HOUSTON – The funeral service for George H. W. Bush at his hometown church Thursday was a farewell to a friend, a neighbor and a former…
HOUSTON – The funeral service for George H. W. Bush at his hometown church Thursday was a farewell to a friend, a neighbor and a former president, to be sure.
And to a generation.
“George Bush was a charter member of the Greatest Generation,” his closest friend, former Secretary of State James Baker, declared in his eulogy. “His incredible service to the nation and the world is already etched in the marble of time.”
A day earlier, at Washington’s National Cathedral, historian Jon Meacham called Bush “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th-century founding father,” one in a line of presidents “who believed in causes larger than themselves.” Bush was the last president to have served in combat.
It was author and TV anchor Tom Brokaw who dubbed it the Greatest Generation, the Americans who had survived the Great Depression and then fought in World War II. That conflict was the formative experience for many, including George Herbert Walker Bush, a son of privilege from Greenwich, Connecticut. His determination to accomplish something big in his life, something meaningful, was fueled when he survived being shot down over the Pacific and his two crew members didn’t.
Bush was one of the youngest Navy pilots when he enlisted on his 18th birthday, in 1942. He ended up living to age 94, old enough to see many of the classmates from his prep school and the men in his squadron and his colleagues in Congress pass away.
He died last week at his home here, a few blocks from the spired church he had attended for a half-century.
At the National Cathedral service Wednesday, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney described a small wooden plaque Bush once showed him on the oceanside wall of his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. It was inscribed with a pilot’s acronym that summed up his approach to life: “CAVU,” for “Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.

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