Jenna Bush Hager Says Dad Made 'Game' Out of Train Ride to George H.W. Bush's Final Resting Spot
"There were thousands of people that lined the streets," said Jenna Bush Hager, adding, "We had this hilarious time with my dad, where he'd be like, 'Okay, let's see if we can get the guy in the black shirt to wave' "
The world watched last week as Jenna Bush Hager and her family said goodbye to former President George H.W. Bush — but the proceedings weren’t just a somber affair, she says.
The 37-year-old Today correspondent told the show’s morning co-anchors on Monday that her father, former President George W. Bush, kept the mood light while the famous family was aboard a funeral train en route to her grandfather’s final resting place in College Station, Texas, last week.
“I’m great, the past week, even though there’s the pain of missing somebody that we loved so dearly, and that will be here for a little bit, there was the joy, we took a train, which is what my grandpa always wanted to do — which was so much fun — to College Station, where he is buried next to my grandma,” said Bush Hager.
Following a funeral service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston last Thursday, the 41st president’s remains were transported by “4141” to College Station. From there, his coffin was taken to the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M University, where he was buried next to his late wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who passed away in 1953 at the age of 3.
George H.W.’s funeral train — a tradition that first began with President Abraham Lincoln — was the first to be used in a state funeral in 49 years.
“There were thousands of people that lined the streets,” said Bush Hager. “We had this hilarious time with my dad, where he’d be like, ‘Okay, let’s see if we can get the guy in the black shirt to wave.’ We played this game, and it filled us up with such hope, and I think, you know, not everybody gets to have — they lose their grandparents, or people they love, and they’re not celebrated. And he was celebrated.”
She added of the three-day memorials and ceremonies honoring her grandfather, who died on Nov. 30 at 94, “There was a lot of laughter — we laughed and we had a lot of fun. We told stories.”
George H.W. “really wanted” a funeral train, Bush Hager said during a later segment on Today.
“It was a proper send-off,” she said. “And we feel so lucky.”
During George H.W.’s state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Bush Hager gave a reading from Revelation 21:1-4, 23-25.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new Earth, for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared, as a bride adorned for her husband,” began Bush Hager.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See? The home of God is among mortals,’ ” she continued. “He will dwell with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. Mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”