WASHINGTON—Today, President George H.W. Bush was honored in a service at the United States Capitol. The ceremony marked the arrival of his casket to the Capitol Rotunda, where the late president will lie in state until Wednesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke to recognize President Bush’s legacy of service, strength of character, and the indelible mark he left on our nation’s history.
Speaker Ryan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are as follows:
As Americans, we have no more solemn duty than laying a great patriot to rest.
Here lies a great man.
To the Bush family:
On behalf of the whole House—Republicans and Democrats—we are profoundly sorry for your loss. And we are honored to celebrate this wonderful life with you.
Like so many, I feel a personal debt of gratitude today. The 1988 campaign was the first one I was involved in.
We handed out literature at the Janesville Craig Cougars ball games.
I remember going to this big rally on the Miami of Ohio campus the day after the first debate. The whole experience really drew me into politics.
He was the first president I had the chance to vote for.
And he was the first president to teach me that in a democracy sometimes you fall short. And that how you handle that is just as important as how you win.
An old preacher once said:
“Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.”
Glory is transcendent in the life of our republic. This Rotunda is a trumpet call to glory, tributes to the giants all the way up to the sky.
Grace is different, more elemental. It is not larger than life; it is the stuff of life—the connective tissue in a free society. It deepens the well of our common humanity.
Throughout his life of service, President Bush personified grace. His character was second to none.
He reached the heights of power with uncommon humility.
He made monumental contributions to freedom with a fundamental decency that resonates across generations.
No one better harmonized the joy of life and the duty of life.
There is that indelible image of him as commander-in-chief during the Gulf War waving to a sea of troops during a visit over Thanksgiving.
There are the images of him as a devoted husband—that twinkle in his eye Barbara always brought out—especially in those big family photos in Kennebunkport.
There is the image of him as a loving father reaching out to hold his son’s hand at the National Cathedral after 9/11.
And there is the letter he wrote to his children on the last day of 1990, as he wrestled with the decision over Operation Desert Storm.
He begins by recounting the family Christmas, and apologizes if he seemed distracted.
“I tried not to be,” he writes.
Then, for about a page, he elaborates on his struggle over sending young Americans into harm's way.
Twice in the letter, he writes that “every human life is precious.”
On the original copy, he adds by hand a note wishing the family a happy new year.
In consequential times, George Herbert Walker Bush demonstrated the finest qualities of our Nation and humankind.
A great leader and a good man.
A gentle soul of firm resolve.
He showed us that how we live is as important as what we achieve.
His life was a hymn of honor.
His legacy is grace perfected.
His memory will belong to glory.
God bless the 41st president of the United States.