This isn't the first time we've seen such a gesture from the tight-knit Bush family.

Rebecca Angel Baer
December 5, 2018

President George W. Bush, Bush 43, honored President H.W. Bush, Bush 41, by eulogizing him in the way only a son could do. Known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, the eldest of George and Barbara’s children, held back his tears as he shared memories of his beloved father. Even though you could sense the sadness and every once in a while see the glimmer of a tear in the corner of his eye, he performed his honor, his duty as a son with strength and ease.

 

He spoke of his father’s admirable zest for life with both reverence and even a joke or two, with that trademark Bush family humor. He recalled how for his 90thbirthday, his father chose to sky dive and land on the grounds of St. Anne’s by the Sea in Kennebunkport, Maine, the church where his parents were married, and he often worshiped. “Mother used to say he chose the location just in case the chute didn’t open,” he quipped.

 

But along with the jokes, George W. reflected admirably on the lessons his father taught him. “He was a genuinely optimistic man, and that optimism guided his children and made each of us believe that anything was possible. He continually broadened his horizons with daring decisions,” he said. The proud son spoke about his father the patriot, the man dedicated to selfless service.

 

“Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary, that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values like faith and family.”

 

He continued to share the lessons he learned from the elder Bush, and just how much he taught him about the role he would also assume, President of the United States. George W. shared these lessons with the stoic pride of duty, but when he began to recall the most valuable lessons he learned from his father, lessons on how to be a great father and grandfather, well that is when his lip began to tremble and a tear or two escaped his eyes. He recalled the 41stPresident’s inaugural address, “{H}e said this: ‘We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account, we must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want the men and women who work with us to say? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?’"

 

George W. concluded his eulogy through sobs saying, Well, Dad, we're going to remember you for exactly that and much more, and we're going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. So through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have. And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again.”

 

As he walked back to his seat in the front row, next to his wife Laura, his daughter Barbara gave her father the hand signal for “OK” and mouthed the words, “it was beautiful.” Then, as President Bush sat, still crying, his younger brother Jeb reached over Laura to grab George’s hand, give it a squeeze, and say what appeared to be something joyful or funny as both men started to laugh through their tears.

 

If the moment seemed familiar, that’s because it was.

Smith Collection/Gado / Contributor/Getty Images

Decades earlier, during the 43rd President’s first term, America faced her darkest day—September 11th, 2001. Days after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, then President Bush gave a speech at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of 9/11. That service was held in the National Cathedral, the very same location as today’s funeral service. After his speech, when a visibly shaken President Bush took his seat, his father reached over Laura to squeeze his son’s hand as a gesture of comfort. The very same gesture Jeb repeated today. Like father, like son, all the way around.