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Dole salute embodies emotion of Bush farewell

Bob Dole rose out of his wheelchair, with some assistance, to stand and salute his old World War II veteran friend and 1988 presidential rival, the late President George H.W. Bush.

The former GOP Kansas senator was one of thousands who paid their respects to the 41st president on Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda.

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Sports legends Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson, Chris Evert, Mike Krzyzewski and Albert Pujols paid tribute as well. And Sully H.W. Bush, the former president’s service dog who’s become a social media star, laid down in front of the flag-draped casket.

Bush’s life and legacy consumed the nation’s capital for a second day, as leading political figures, foreign dignitaries, lawmakers and family members honored the former naval aviator who rose through the ranks of political power to become commander in chief.

There also were thousands of everyday Americans who braved hours-long lines in frigid weather to honor Bush under the soaring dome of the Capitol. People like the Frechette family of Trumbull, Conn., who hopped in their car at 3 a.m. on Tuesday and drove five hours straight to Washington.

Mike Frechette and Meimei Zou pulled their 7-year-old daughter Zoe out of school, telling her second-grade teacher she was heading to the Capitol for a history lesson. Her 3-year-old brother, William, sitting in a stroller, made the trip as well.

“I think history is going to be pretty kind to George Bush,” said Frechette, who met and received an autographed book from the former president years ago while working in Beijing. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a more qualified president, and it’s refreshing, almost nostalgic, to where we are today.”

“I signed his condolence book: ‘I hope his spirit is still with us to guide us in the future.’ I think we need a little bit of that,” Frechette said.

Margaret Stout, who lives in Columbia, Mo., said she voted for Bush in 1988 and regretted that he wasn’t elected to a second term. She paid tribute alongside family members who live in the D.C. area, including three grandchildren: Penelope, 13; Gwendolyn, 11; and Ezekial, 7.

“I’m from Missouri, so this has been a pleasure for me to be here at this time in history,” Stout said after viewing Bush’s casket. “This has been a historic thing, and my grandkids are seeing it with me.”

The tributes transcended party. Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse plans for immigration bills add uncertainty on Biden proposal This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package MORE (Md.), the Democratic whip, noted with a laugh that Bush had campaigned for his Republican opponent when Hoyer was first elected to Congress in 1981 — “the low point of our relationship.” Yet the pair found plenty of common ground in subsequent years, including their work on the Helsinki Commission, a human rights panel, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark civil rights legislation that Bush signed into law in 1990.

Bush was “the quintessential example of what those of us in public service ought to be,” Hoyer said. “He enhanced public service … and the reputation and performance of our country. We would do well to replicate his performance and his conduct.”

On Wednesday morning, Bush’s casket will be transferred from the Rotunda to the National Cathedral, roughly 5 miles northwest of the Capitol, for an 11 a.m. state funeral.

The motorcade accompanying Bush’s casket will travel down Constitution Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue and up Massachusetts Avenue to the cathedral.

Eulogies will be delivered by Bush’s oldest son, former President George W. Bush; Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada; former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.); and Jon Meacham, a prominent historian who spoke at the funeral of Bush’s wife, Barbara, in April and visited the Rotunda on Tuesday.

President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE is scheduled to attend the funeral service but will not have a speaking role. The president has designated Wednesday a national day of mourning, and most of the federal government will be shuttered for the day.

Following the service at the National Cathedral, Bush’s casket will be flown back to Houston, where his body will lie at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church near his residence. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday morning; Bush will be laid to rest at his presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station, where his wife and daughter are buried.

In a town often defined by partisan polarization and tribal warfare, Bush’s death and subsequent memorialization have pushed those tensions to the back burner of the national debate — at least temporarily — as figures across a spectrum of fields and ideologies descended on the Capitol to join the solemn ritual of honoring a fallen commander in chief.

CIA Director Gina Haspel and a contingent of former CIA directors stood before the coffin of Bush, a former CIA director himself in the Ford administration.

Later, former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush joined other members of the Bush clan in the Rotunda. “Hardball” host Chris Matthews was spotted too, as was Trump’s former White House spokesman, Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPsaki signals she's open to reviving 'Skype seats' amid pandemic Newsmax rescinds Spicer's White House Correspondents' Association application: report Sean Spicer applies to join White House Correspondents' Association MORE, an alum of the George W. Bush administration.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid her respects. So, too, did Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonBiden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug Ben Carson launches conservative think tank Trump's '1776 Report' released on MLK Day receives heavy backlash MORE and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE (R-W.Va.).

House GOP Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: House panel spars over GameStop, Robinhood | Manchin meets with advocates for wage | Yellen says go big, GOP says hold off House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps Robinhood CEO, regulators to testify at House hearing on GameStop frenzy MORE (N.C.), who worked on George W. Bush’s successful presidential campaign in 2000, brought his 4-year-old daughter, Cecelia.

Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHouse Freedom Caucus chair weighs Arizona Senate bid Cindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors MORE (R-Ariz.), visited as well, with tears in her eyes.

But Dole’s visit was, perhaps, the most moving of the day. Sporting a dog tie and colorful socks that were part of Bush’s signature look, Dole was helped to his feet by an aide. Visibly choked up, the Kansas Republican and former Senate majority leader then saluted Bush’s casket before he was assisted back into his wheelchair.

Many in the room were moved to tears.

“It was a very special moment,” said Carmen Broucek. She and her husband, Gerald, had tears in their eyes as they left the Rotunda and walked down a flight of stairs to the Capitol’s crypt.

Early Tuesday morning, the Brouceks drove 2½ hours from their home in Halifax, Pa., to the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville, Md., to take the train to Union Station near the Capitol, where they waited another two hours to see Bush’s casket.

“I think a lot of people didn’t realize at the time how much he was doing for us,” Gerald Broucek said. “He will be missed.”