Houstonians bid farewell as Bush lies in repose
Maria Lourdres Torres rushed home after work to say goodbye to a president.
With the sun setting overhead, Torres, 59, and her son were joined by hundreds of Houstonians lined up outside of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on Wednesday, where former president George H.W. Bush would lay in repose through the night and into the early morning.
While Bush was treated to pomp and circumstance on the national stage earlier in the day at a state funeral in Washington D.C., it’s at 717 Sage Road where the city that adopted him got a chance to bid a more personal farewell.
“I want to pay my respects,” said Amaury Mercado as he waited to board a bus that would take him to St. Martin’s. “I’m here with my son making sure he knows this is what you do, you pay your respects.”
Mercado, a former Navy petty officer, served under Bush’s presidency and said he admired his ideals of respect to all.
Jan Robertson, a U.S. history teacher at George Bush High School wearing Christmas themed socks in honor of Bush’s affinity for colorful hosiery, echoed Mercado’s sentiments.
He started teaching during Bush’s presidency and has kept tabs on the Bush family ever since.
“They’re the type of people I wish more people were like,” Robertson said. “They talked about giving back to society and service.”
Torres, who lives in Cypress, spent hours waiting for her chance to pay respects. She missed the funeral of Barbara Bush earlier this year, and that motivated her to prepare for the former president’s proceedings.
“I have so much respect for the Bush family,” Torres said. “His dedication to the citizenry is why I support him.”
“And they’re from Texas,” she added.
By the time the hearse carrying the former president pulled into the church’s lot after a trip from Ellington Field, the night chill grew deeper as the Houston sky darkened above the towering Gothic structure.
The American and presidential flag waved in a burst of wind as body bearers moved the casket with precision into the church. Trumpets, trombones and drums broke the silence.
Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr., the church’s rector, offered prayers at the church’s front doors.
Houstonians then proceeded single file through the arched halls and before the flag-draped casket.
A boy saluted. A man bowed. A woman leaned against her cane, her head held high.
One girl wore a hoodie. One man wore a suit. A family wore puffy jackets. Military members wore their uniforms.
Torres’s 18-year-old Lourbert Hernandez plans to enlist in the military soon. Standing before the casket, he gave a salute to the president he respects for having served his country in multiple roles.
Torres, in a dark coat, stepped forward, her head bent into her praying hands.
“Senor, tenlo en tu santo reino.”
“Lord, have him in your holy kingdom.”