US to hold day of mourning for George HW Bush

American stock markets to close for day in honour of former US president

US stock markets will close and the United States will hold a national day of mourning on Wednesday as the country remembers former US president George HW Bush, who died on Friday evening.

Mr Bush, the 41st president, died at his home in Texas. He was 94.

Speaking in Argentina, where he has been attending the G20 summit, President Donald Trump led tributes to Mr Bush.

“He was a very fine man. I met him on numerous occasions,” he said. “One thing that came through loud and clear – he was very proud of his family and very much loved his family. So he was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. He led a full life, and a very exemplary life too.”


Mr Trump and his wife Melania will attend the state funeral in Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday.

From Monday until Wednesday. the former president will lie in state in the US Capitol, where the public can pay their respects. After the funeral in Washington, his remains will be returned to Houston, Texas, where he will again lie in repose before a second memorial on Thursday.

He will be buried at the George HW Bush presidential library in College Station, Texas. Mr Bush’s wife Barbara and their daughter Robin – who died of leukaemia at the age of three – are also buried there.

Loss to Clinton

A second World War veteran and former head of the CIA, Mr Bush was president of the US from 1989 to 1993. Though easily elected in late 1988 after he clinched the Republican nomination – having served as Ronald Reagan’s vice-president – he failed to win a second term, losing to Arkansas governor Bill Clinton in the 1992 election amid an economic slowdown in the US.

His main achievements were in areas of foreign policy. He ordered American military interventions in three countries – Panama, in an attempt to remove dictator Manuel Noriega, who had been indicted in the US on drug charges; Somalia, an intervention he ordered in the final days of his presidency; and Iraq.

The latter, his war on Saddam Hussein over the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is the best remembered of these. Mr Bush announced the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in a live address to the nation in 1991. The war finished six weeks later. The president resisted calls to topple Saddam Hussein, though his son George W Bush would again send US troops to the region 12 years later to pursue that task.

The 41st president of the US was also remembered for his role in ushering in stability after the end of the Cold War, and helping to oversee the reunification of Germany.

“George Bush recognised and understood our desire for the unity of Germany,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said at the G20 summit on Saturday. “I mourn George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, as the chancellor of the German Federal Republic but also as a German who, without the results of his policies, would hardly be standing here.”

Charity work

Mr Bush spent most of his life after the presidency in Houston. He remained a much-loved figure and was heavily involved in charity work.

For a CNN documentary broadcast last year he returned to the Japanese island where his fighter aircraft had been shot down during the second World War. His two comrades died after the aircraft caught fire over the Pacific, but the then 20-year-old Bush parachuted off and was picked up by a US submarine.

Other former US presidents also paid tribute to Mr Bush. Bill Clinton described his friendship with Mr Bush as “one of the great gifts of my life”, referencing the famous note left by Mr Bush to his successor in the Oval Office.

“You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you,” the outgoing president wrote.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent