A few George HW Bush funeral questions

Sorry, title should read “A few George HW Bush funeral questions”

Never afraid to ask the dumb questions:

  1. Although I’m not much for televised funerals (I’m pretty sure mine won’t be), I’m rather impressed by the logistics surrounding the ceremonies for the late Pres. Bush. Is there a specific government department tasked with organizing funerals for heads of state, is it all done through the White House, or what?

  2. Who’s paying for all the pomp and circumstance and roughly how much? I assume the taxpayers, at least in part. Not complaining, just curious.

  3. OK, trivial, I know, but any idea who supplied the hearse (complete with presidential seal) for the ceremony in DC? I guess I’m asking, does the government keep a fleet of hearses around for occasions like this, or do they just slap the seal on one borrowed from Fred’s Mortuary?


I was thinking about this as well this morning while I caught some of it on TV. There seemed to be a lot of organization, and the soldiers, at least, were practiced as pall bearers walking down a flight of stairs together. I would not be surprised if there is a playbook somewhere that someone is tasked to maintain for events like this. It appears to be a fairly big deal to come together in a matter of days, and so organized and practiced.

As for that, the United States Army Military District of Washington is responsible for state funerals. I believe they meet with presidents soon after the presidents take office to begin the planning.

Googling, it appears that the hearse was a Cadillac XTS hearse, which is one of their custom models. I can’t find who supplied it but it’s possible it was provided by a local funeral home, or even General Motors directly.

What I’m wondering is about the closure of the USPS today. Was that done for past funerals?

We watched the funeral, but I’m working so I missed a bit. I saw Brian Mulroney delivering a eulogy. Were there any current heads of state or other foreign representatives there?

Sorry if it’s a bit morbid but wait until Operation London Bridge.

Federal day of mourning. Not just the post office, but all Federal offices.

The Chief of Protocol would also be involved in handling arrangements of foreign dignitaries.

Angela Merkel and Prince Charles were both there. Neither is Head of State, of course, but Merkel’s attendance -rather than whoever is currently President of Germany - says a lot, in a good way. Queen Elizabeth basically doesn’t do foreign funerals at all, so Charles gets to go.

Has this happened before? I don’t remember anything being closed for the deaths of Ford, Reagan or Nixon.

I didn’t remember the closures either but Wikipedia says there were national days of mourning for all of those presidents.

I did see some mail trucks out and about, so I figure Amazon stuff still went out regardless of how deep in mourning the mail people may have been.


Most of you may know this, but Union Pacific has provided the rolling stock for the train that will take Bush’s remains from Houston to College Station, where he is to be interred. This includes locomotive 4141, which, back in 2005 was painted in livery resembling that of Air Force One to commemorate the Bush presidency. I live a few miles from the train’s departure point in Spring, and I suspect the afternoon traffic will be even more of a nightmare than usual.

Once upon a time I assumed command of my first company in the Michigan National Guard. It was near the Grand Rapids area where then still alive former President Ford grew up. One day a couple months in one of my full timers made a reference to his next week being busy because of the “Operation Bury Jerry” update meeting. That’s when I got read into the Ford Funeral Plan.

The meeting in question, IIRC, happened every two years. This was only a piece of the overall funeral plan - Ford laying in rest at his Presidential library in Grand Rapid. It involved both the FBI and Secret Service. ISTR some reps from other federal agencies. There was also a broad sampling of reps from state government agencies.

Even after I left command I winced whenever Ford came up in the news along with any mention of his health. I happened to be on a set of orders at state headquarters preparing two units for deployment when Ford died. The priority got me out of supporting the funeral. The building was a ghost town for about a week, though.

These things most certainly aren’t just thrown together at the last moment with nobody thinking about them in the meantime. That said, the MI National Guard support still had big chunks of pulling important details out of rectal defilade just before execution. That’s with a detailed plan already in place.

The results we saw involved a couple decades of Bush Funeral Plan update meetings.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

I’m watching the funeral train now as it makes its way to College Station. According to the UP, included are three full diners (including a dome diner) and two business cars with their own kitchens and seating for eight. Just how much can these Texans eat on a 2-1/2 hour journey?

Those are the most comfortable and luxurious cars Union Pacific has. They don’t necessarily prepare and serve meals on every trip.

You’re asking how much a Texan can eat in 2 1/2 hours?

I’m sure refreshments will be served as well.