Thursday marked the final farewell to former President George H.W. Bush in Texas.
After his funeral in Houston, his body was transported from Spring in Harris County to his final resting place at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.
For the first time since the death of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, a president’s body was transported on a funeral train.
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“Union Pacific is so honored to be helping America recognize President Bush and pay respect to him on his way to his final resting place,” Union Pacific spokesperson Tom Lange said.
Bush arrived at College Station on the Union Pacific No. 4141 George Bush Locomotive. The train was unveiled in 2005, during a ceremony near the Bush Presidential Library.
Thousands lined cities along the route to pay final respects to the former president.
The train has 11 cars with the president in the sixth. His American flag-draped coffin was visible to all those along the route.
The final trip came at the request of the former president himself.
“The CEO at the time had a personal relationship with President Bush,” Lange said.
Lange said he and the employees of Union Pacific are still taking in the scope of the honor of being involved in the ceremonial trip.
“I don’t know if any of us can be fully prepared for the emotion and the enormity of the event,” Lange said. “You like to think that you are prepared for what the emotion might be, but I can’t and I don’t know anyone who really could.”
For many, the idea of Bush traversing the Texas countryside one last time was chill-inducing. It was moving to know that he took one last journey through the state he loved and be among the people.
“He loved the trains – especially in the days of when he could ride trains, because it brought him closer to the people versus and airplane or something else,” Lange said.