On Wednesday, the day of Bush’s state funeral in Washington, D.C., the airline suspended operations at Terminal C’s gate 41 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and turned it into a memorial in his honor. The gate was adorned with photos of the late president and his wife, Barbara, accompanied by an American flag and a wreath.
The crew also left a note that read “Fly High George,” and changed the automated gate monitor to read “In Memory of George H.W. Bush.”
“As the namesake of our hub in Houston, President George H. W. Bush is synonymous with the city he loved,” a spokesperson for United Airlines tells PEOPLE in a statement. “We joined the nation in honoring his legacy by closing gate 41 yesterday and today as a tribute to our president and a true American patriot.”
In a separate area of the airport, travelers placed flowers around a statue of the president, who passed away on Nov. 30 at the age of 94. President Donald Trump declared Wednesday a day of mourning, and issued a proclamation that all flags should fly at half-staff for 30 days in Bush’s honor.
According to local news outlet K Hou 11, employees at the airport said passengers were taking extra time to take photos of the decorated statue and read about the former president, who was once a naval aviator.
“We’re proud to bear his name,” Bill Begley with Houston’s Airport System told the outlet. “We’ll make sure his legacy is honored properly.”
According to Begley, the statue was erected in the airport in 1997, but has a different weight today.
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“This art piece is preserving his memory, enhancing his memory and reminding people about they cared so much for him as a president and person,” he said.
In the capital, the former president and war hero was honored by moving eulogies from family and political peers — including his son George W. Bush — during a funeral service at the National Cathedral. Bush’s coffin was then taken back to his home state of Texas.
Following a funeral service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas on Thursday, his remains are being transported by “4141” to College Station. From there, his coffin will be taken to the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M University, where he will be buried next to his late wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who passed away in 1953 at the age of three.
“Every day of his 73 years of marriage, dad taught us all what it means to be a great husband. … He was dedicated to her totally,” reflected his son, George W., on Wednesday. He is one of Bush’s five surviving children.
He later added, “We’re going to miss you. … So through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man. …The best man a son or daughter could have. … And in our grief, let us know that dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again.”