What Goes Into Planning A Presidential Funeral


Former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st U.S. president, will likely be buried in Texas on Thursday after mendacity in state and being remembered at a number of memorial companies. A type of companies on Wednesday was attended by President Donald Trump, all former dwelling U.S. presidents, and world leaders.

Because the nation prepares for Thursday’s solemn ceremony to pay additional respect to the late chief, right here’s an summary of planning for a presidential funeral.

Who will get a state funeral?

State funerals are historically reserved for a head of state, former president, or a president-elect, although dwelling presidents can order one for anybody they see match. They aren’t necessary, and could be declined by the household.

Over the past three a long time, there have been solely three state funerals, for former presidents Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, Ronald Reagan in 2004, and Gerald R. Ford 2007. Former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from workplace amid the Watergate scandal, opted to not have one in 1974.

The primary state funeral was in 1841 for William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. president, who died in workplace 30 days after his inauguration. 

The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint companies army honor guard throughout a departure ceremony at Andrews Air Drive Base in Maryland on Wednesday. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

How lengthy do they final?

Presidential state funerals can feature up to 10 days of remembrance, based on the Military’s Army District of Washington, which is in control of coordinating them. The White House says on its website that there historically is 5 days of remembrance. Every president has a say in planning their funeral, a activity that begins shortly after they take workplace. 

Bush’s state funeral is scheduled to run from Monday to Thursday.

State funerals include three phases, based on the Army District of Washington. The primary stage contains ceremonies within the state the place the deceased lived, which in Bush’s case was Texas.

The second stage contains ceremonies inside Washington. Bush’s casket was flown to the Nation’s Capital on Monday night and had been mendacity in state within the Capitol Rotunda till Wednesday morning, when a memorial service was held at Washington Nationwide Cathedral.

The third stage contains ceremonies within the state the place the deceased has chosen to be interred. In Bush’s case, there will likely be a memorial for him at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Thursday. Following this memorial, he will likely be buried on the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M College.

From left: President Donald Trump and first girl Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first girl Michelle Obama and former President Invoice Clinton are seen throughout a service for former President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday. (MANDEL NGAN through Getty Pictures)

What’s Trump’s function?

Because the sitting president, Trump has the duty of asserting presidential proclamations, considered one of which introduced the previous president’s demise. He then directed the Division of Protection to conduct a state funeral on behalf of the nation, based on the Army District of Washington.

Are there some other presidential proclamations? 

Trump, on the identical day that he introduced Bush’s demise, ordered all U.S. flags to be displayed at half-staff on the White Home and on all public buildings, grounds and army posts and naval stations for 30 days. This order is considered one of custom, and sometimes begins on the day of the president’s demise.

Trump additionally declared Wednesday, when Bush’s memorial service was held, to be a Nationwide Day of Mourning. This declaration shut down the federal authorities, permitting federal staff to take the time off out of respect to Bush.

Such proclamations aren’t issued completely for the demise of a president. A day of mourning was declared for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, in addition to within the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults.

An American flag flies at half-staff on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Monday, following the demise of former President George H.W. Bush. (Bloomberg through Getty Pictures)

What’s mendacity in state?

Mendacity in state is a public viewing held contained in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. The nationwide honor has been given to solely 32 individuals during the last 166 years. Only 12 presidents, together with Bush, have obtained the dignity, which have to be authorized by Congress and the deceased’s surviving household. Bush lay in state from Monday night to Wednesday morning.

Throughout this public viewing, the president’s casket is historically positioned on prime of a bier, called the Lincoln catafalque, that was in-built 1865 to show Abraham Lincoln’s coffin.

This viewing isn’t unique to U.S. presidents, after all. Arizona Sen. John McCain lay in state after his demise this 12 months, in addition to former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. Former Secretary of State Henry Clay was the primary to lie in state within the Rotunda in 1852.

4 non-public residents have additionally lain within the Capitol, in what’s known as mendacity in honor.

These 4 people have been the Rev. Invoice Graham in February, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 2005 and two cops who have been killed whereas defending the Capitol in 1998.

Members of the general public are seen contained in the Capitol Rotunda as former President George H.W. Bush lies in state on Wednesday forward of his memorial service.  (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The place do the funerals and burials happen?

The Nationwide Cathedral in Washington, the place Bush had his funeral on Wednesday, has hosted funerals for simply three different presidents, together with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford. The cathedral is reasonably new, having been completed in 1990 after two centuries of planning.

Different presidents have had their funerals at church buildings the place they worshipped. John F. Kennedy’s funeral service was on the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Lyndon B. Johnson’s was at the Nationwide Metropolis Christian Church in Washington, the place he worshiped whereas president.

Burial websites have included presidential libraries and personal estates. Two presidents, John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson, are buried in Arlington Nationwide Cemetery.

Bush will likely be buried in his household plot behind the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M College in Faculty Station, Texas.


  • This text initially appeared on HuffPost.

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