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George H.W. Bush funeral: Live updates

Read and watch the latest developments from the state funeral of the 41st president of the United States.

Former President George H.W. Bush returned home to Texas Wednesday after a meticulously choreographed state funeral service at Washington National Cathedral. Events commemorating his life and legacy will continue in Houston and College Station, Texas, Thursday.

Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was honored with stories of his bravery in wartime, his compassion and loyalty, and his love of family, friends and country.

George W. Bush, the 43rd president, gave a tearful eulogy of his father, peppered with jokes and personal reminiscences. Other tributes came from Bush's biographer, Jon Meacham, former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, and ex-Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended the funeral service, along with several former presidents and world leaders.

Scrolls through the NBC News live blog to experience Wednesday's events as they happened.

Goodnight, and thanks for reading. Ceremonies celebrating Bush's life continue tomorrow.

Tonight, the former president will lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston.

Tomorrow's events will include a second funeral service at St. Martin's scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET.

Bush's remains will then be transported by funeral train to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he will be laid to rest on the grounds of his presidential library located on the campus.

Bush's plane touches down in Houston

The blue and white government plane carrying former President George H.W. Bush's casket and members of his family landed in Texas just after 6 p.m. on Wednesday as the events commemorating his life and legacy continue.

Friends and family, after deplaning, gathered on the tarmac at Ellington Airport to watch the military honor guard escort the casket from the aircraft to a hearse bearing the presidential seal.

Bush's remains will be transported to St. Martin's Episcopal Church for the next phase of the ceremony, which will include a second funeral service Thursday in the state where he launched his political career.

During that service, Bush's grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Secretary of State James Baker will eulogize the former president.

Following that ceremony, Bush's remains will be transported by funeral train to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The former president will then be laid to rest on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, near his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

View from left wing of plane carrying Bush home

The presidential plane, dubbed "Special Air Mission 41," conducted a special low-flying tribute flight over the George H.W. Presidential Library Center and the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. 

Bush and Dole: A political rivalry for the ages. And then that final salute.

The scene inside the Capitol this week was arresting: 95-year-old Bob Dole, confined for years to a wheelchair, rising with assistance to offer one final standing salute to George H.W. Bush.

The history behind it made it even more poignant. Born only 11 months apart, but into dramatically different circumstances, the two men forged one of the preeminent rivalries of modern American politics, fueled by shared ambition and shaped by fateful twists and bitter confrontations, with Bush ultimately capturing the prize that always eluded Dole.

They both came to Washington around the same time, but from very different places.

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'41' mowed into the Aggie baseball field at Texas A&M

When "Special Air Mission 41," the government craft carrying the body of former President George H.W. Bush, conducts a flyover 2,000 feet above Texas A&M in College Station, family members on the plane might be able to see another tribute visible down below.

The number '41' — Bush was the 41st president of the United States — has been mowed into the outfield at Olsen Field, home of Aggie baseball. Holly Kasperbauer, the assistant director of the Public Service Leadership Program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, tweeted pictures of the tribute on Wednesday. 

Nick McKenna, assistant athletic field maintenance manager for Texas A&M Athletics, said in a tweet that the Aggie field staff added "a little something extra to the outfield today in the hopes of providing a special touch to tomorrow's events."

Those Thursday events, part of his funeral services in Texas, include a 21-fighter flyover in missing man formation, which the Navy called "unprecedented" in size. 

Former aide to George H.W. Bush: 'I'm glad' Trump came to the funeral

Joe Watkins, an MSNBC analyst and White House aide to former President George H.W. Bush, said Wednesday that he was "glad" President Donald Trump attended Bush's state funeral service.

Watkins called Bush's funeral "incredible," adding that "people were crying all around me because it was so moving."

"It was funny and it was moving at the same time," Watkins said. "I mean whether it was Jon Meacham or former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney or Alan Simpson the former senator from Wyoming, who was hilarious but also just so on point, or George W. Bush, the former president who moved so many of us to tears."

On Trump, Watkins said it was "a big step for him to be" in attendance, though he added that he thought Trump "had to be there."

"But I'm glad he was there and I’m glad that he said what he said beforehand and that he was consistent with the spirit of the moment, which was about honoring the memory of George Herbert Walker Bush," Watkins said.

 

Exiting cathedral, Sessions chats with former Senate colleagues. Will he run for his old seat?

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with former Senate colleagues, including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., as he exited the cathedral. NBC News asked if he plans to run for his old Alabama Senate seat — which he’s been said to be considering — in 2020.

“I haven’t cleared my brain on that,” he said. He added that he doesn’t yet have a timeline for making a decision. Democrat Doug Jones won a special election last year after Sessions left the seat open to become Trump’s attorney general.

But Sessions, who earned Trump's wrath for recusing himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, was ousted by the president just a day after last month’s midterm elections. Alabama is a heavily Republican state, and the GOP has a good shot at reclaiming the seat in 2020.

Bush departs Washington for the final time

The former president's casket, accompanied by family, is aboard "Special Air Mission 41," en route to Texas.

The government plane will conduct a "tribute flight" honoring George H.W. Bush over his interment site at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, later this afternoon, according to a news release from Texas A&M University. 

The library is located on the university's campus. 

ICYMI: George W. Bush continues sweet tradition with Michelle Obama

Bush was caught on video passing a cough drop to the former first lady during John McCain's funeral service in September — and appeared to slip her something sweet ahead of his father's ceremony today, too.

What's next following Bush's state funeral

With the former president's state funeral service in Washington, D.C., concluded, Bush's casket, accompanied by his family, will now board a government plane and head toward Houston, where ceremonial events and remembrances will continue through Thursday.

Thursday morning, another funeral service will be held at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where Bush's grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Secretary of State James Baker will eulogize the former president.

Bush told CNN that his grandfather's funeral was an opportunity for the nation to "put politics aside."

Following that service, Bush's remains will be transported by funeral train to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Bush will be laid to rest on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, near his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

Card: Bush's funeral marked 'disappearance' of tribalism that has 'captured America'

Andrew Card, who served as secretary of transportation under George H.W. Bush and later as former President George W. Bush's chief of staff, told NBC News that Bush's funeral was reflective of his decency and respect for others. 

"I found this to be very moving, it was emotional, it was wonderful to see the world coming together to do this," Card said, adding "We saw the former presidents, we saw the president of the United States, this was not a political event, this wasn't a partisan event, this was a celebration of a life well lived and a country served extremely well."

The ceremony marked a "disappearance" of tribalism that has "captured America for so long," Card continued.

"He respected individuals who served, even when he didn't agree with what they had to say," Card said.

How Bush responded when he heard his own eulogy

NBC's Willie Geist reports that Jon Meacham, biographer and friend to the former president, read the eulogy he delivered today to Bush before his death. 

Here's how Bush responded.

WATCH: Casket leaves cathedral as Bush heads home to Texas

Funeral attendees stand during last hymn as Bush's casket carried down the aisle

The service is nearing its end, and as the final hymn is sung, the casket is carried down the aisle in procession.

The Bush family, again escorted by Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard, followed the casket out of the cathedral. 

Prince Charles filed out behind Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and John Roberts, but as he passed them, they did not appear to exchange any words.

Analysis: W. eulogy exceeded my expectations

I didn't have high expectations for George W. Bush's eulogy for his father. The fraught relationship between them, chronicled in Jacob Weisberg's book, "The Bush Tragedy," suggested it might be cliche-ridden and well short of moving.

It wasn't.

This was a fine moment for George W., a tough moment — as any son who has ever eulogized his beloved father (as I have) must know.

43 was, by almost all accounts, a worse president than 41, who himself wasn't a "great president," no matter what the commentary has been this week. But the better angels of the family — and the nation — came through. Among the lines from his eldest son that rang true for me, as a longtime critics of the Bushes:

"He looked for the good in each person, and he usually found it."

"He showed us how setbacks can strengthen."

"He could tease and needle but never out of malice."

"He was born with just two settings — full throttle, then sleep."

When George W. Bush broke down at the end of his eulogy, it brought a tear to my eye.

I was not crying over the death of his father. He was 94, and his death is no tragedy. And I wasn't crying over the authenticity and beauty of his son's love, though it was moving. I was sad because the Bush family, for all its leadership mistakes over the years, represents a tradition of service and honor and decency in this country that is at risk.

Let's hope these days of mourning can remind us that the generation that won World War II and built a great nation — a man who represented our better selves, or at least an aspiration to love and respect and decency — can inspire us to repair our country.

Jonathan Alter is an NBC News political contributor and analyst. His books include "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies" and "The Promise."

Prohibition ended 85 years ago today, NBC's presidential historian notes

Bush's pastor jokes about service dog Sully's popularity

The Rev. Russell Levenson of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston spoke at former President George H.W. Bush's state funeral on Wednesday, following an emotional eulogy from former President George W. Bush.

Levenson drew some laughs from the audience when he began by mentioning how the 41st president's wife Barbara, who died earlier this year, would note that his sermons would go on just a bit too long.

Levenson also discussed Bush's final days, noting that former Secretary of State James Baker, Bush's longtime friend, was by his side at the very end. (George W. Bush, in his tribute minutes earlier, said that Baker sneaked his father Grey Goose vodka and steaks from Morton's when he was in the hospital.)

Also getting a hat tip from the pulpit: Sully, the service dog with the former president in his final months. The dog, said Levenson, seemingly "has gotten more press than the president in recent days."

"Mr. President, mission complete," Levenson said, in reference to Bush's stint as a military aviator. "Welcome to your eternal home, where ceiling and visibility are unlimited and life goes on forever."

'The best father a son or daughter could have': George W. Bush chokes up as he ends eulogy

Analysis: Was Simpson's eulogy as much about Trump as it was about Bush?

Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who delivered a tribute to Bush earlier in the service, could be a fierce partisan when he was in the Senate. We clashed on more than one occasion, most memorably when we were the two guests on Charles Grodin's old show on CNBC. He accused me of wearing my "Jesus shoes" — a reference to me being high and mighty on some issue I've long forgotten — which I considered strange considering that I'm Jewish. But he was always good for a funny quip and we talked easily in later years.

His eulogy was also terrific, and it included some lines about Bush that are especially resonant in the Trump era. I'm thinking especially of "those who travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic," and "hatred corrodes the container it is carried in."

When he said the latter, I was wondering if any of this talk about loyalty, friendship and decency was sinking in for the president, sitting on the aisle. I doubt it.

Jonathan Alter is an NBC News political contributor and analyst. His books include "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies" and "The Promise."

Behind the unlikely friendship between historian Jon Meacham and Bush

If you or anyone you know is asked to speak at a funeral, you would be well-advised to read or watch Jon Meacham's beautiful eulogy for President Bush.

Full disclosure: Jon and I knew each other from the Washington Monthly and worked closely together at Newsweek for 15 years. He has helped me on my own history books and we remain friends. Jon getting to know Bush was an unlikely development because Bush, who had a long memory for insults, despised Newsweek for a 1987 cover entitled, "Fighting the Wimp Factor." 

The author of that headline, Jon's close friend and fellow historian, Evan Thomas, has since explained why that cover line was so wrong. Bush soon realized that Jon was a freshman in college at the time and bore no responsibility for it. They bonded almost immediately in ways that are highly unusual between a president and a journalist — though of course Bush was no longer in office and Meacham was more historian than reporter.

His biography was nicer to Bush than I would have been, but he doesn't let him off the hook for the nasty 1988 campaign he ran against Michael Dukakis and his other shortcomings. Anyone who appreciates Jon's eulogy should read that and his other books, on FDR and Churchill, Andrew Jackson and, most recently, difficult moments in American history — more difficult than today — and how we survived.

Jonathan Alter is an NBC News political contributor and analyst. His books include "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies" and "The Promise."

Irish tenor who sang to Bush sings at his funeral service

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang "Last Full Measure of Devotion" after former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson's eulogy of former President George H.W. Bush at his funeral service.

Tynan had performed for Bush at his 80th birthday celebration, in addition to singing to him while he was on his deathbed.

'The brightest of 1,000 points of light': Bush remembered by his son

Former President George W. Bush’s voice quavered and broke, his eyes welling up with tears, as he came to the conclusion of a highly personal tribute in which he described his late father as “the best father a son or daughter could ever have.”

While others gave testament to the elder Bush's qualities as a politician and national leader, his eldest child focused on recalling his personal attributes.

“The horizons he saw were bright and hopeful,” Bush said.

He talked about his father’s devotion to his mother — how he would hold former First Lady Barbara Bush’s hand while they watched police dramas on television in their later years — and how he prayed daily for the daughter who died decades ago.

The elder Bush loved jokes — "most of 'em off color" — his son said. “He could tease and needle but never out of malice.”

At the end, love was on his mind.

The younger Bush said he called his father shortly before his death and was told the 41st president might be able to hear him but hadn’t said anything for awhile.

“Dad,” the younger Bush recalled saying, “I love you...you’ve been a wonderful father.”

“I love you, too,” the father replied — his final words.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson: Bush told me I only had 10 minutes to speak

Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson won a lot of laughs with his eulogy, beginning by letting the audience know that Bush himself told him he would have to wrap up his speech within 10 minutes.

Simpson discussed his longtime friendship with Bush, which began in the 1960s when Simpson's father, himself a former GOP senator, sold the future president a home in Washington on a handshake agreement.

The former Wyoming senator discussed how Bush remained a close friend even as Simpson, in his words, went from being part of the A-list of Washington social circles to the Z-list.

Simpson went down a list of Bush's legislative achievements, crediting him for having the willingness to break a campaign promise to not raise taxes in order to pass a budget. 

"He often said: 'When the really tough choices come, it's the country, not me. Not about Democrats or Republicans, it's for our country that I fought for,'" Simpson recalled Bush saying.

Bush was someone "you would've wanted on your side," Simpson said.

"He never hated anyone," Simpson said, calling Bush the "most decent and honorable man" he had ever met.

Former Canadian PM Mulroney: 'No occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable'

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney paid tribute to his friend George H.W. Bush, as a "gentleman" and "a genuine leader."

"I believe it will be said that in the life of this country...no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled and more honorable than George Herbert Walker Bush," he said.

Mulroney, who was a fellow world leader with Bush from 1989 to 1993, delivered the second eulogy at the funeral for the 41st president at the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday.

He spoke of the former president's humor. After a particularly long speech from the prime minister of Iceland at one event, Mulroney said Bush walked over and said: "Brian, I've just learned the fundamental principle of foreign affairs."

"What's that, George?" Mulroney responded.

"The smaller the country, the longer the speech," Bush said.

Mulroney also reflected on Bush's leadership in guiding through important environmental legislation that impacted the United States and the world.

"And let me tell you that when George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman," he said. "A genuine leader. One who was distinguished, resolute and brave."

Mulroney spoke emotionally while remembering a visit with the Bush family at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine where Bush reflected on how satisfied he was with his life and family. 

“There are wooden ships. There are sailing ships. There are ships that sail the sea," he said. "But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”

Granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager gives second reading

Jenna Bush Hager, whose younger daughter is named Poppy after the late president's childhood nickname, read from Revelation 21:1-4, 23-25.

Hager, whose older daughter is nicknamed Mila, shared remembrances of her grandfather with the "Today" show alongside her twin sister, Barbara Bush. 

“I feel so lucky that my kids got to know him. Mila will remember him. And Poppy was named after him, which is the biggest blessing," Hager told "Today." "Yesterday, Mila goes, ‘Poppy, you know that you were named after the best man in the world, don't you?’ And, of course, I had to go hide in the kitchen and cry,” she said.

Biographer Jon Meacham: Bush was the 'last great soldier-statesman'

Presidential historian Jon Meacham, who wrote the definitive biography of George H.W. Bush in 2015, delivered the first eulogy at Bush's state funeral in Washington on Wednesday.

Meacham began with a heroic anecdote from Bush's service as a pilot during World War II, describing when Bush's plane was shot down over the Pacific.

Meacham called Bush the "last great soldier-statesman," saying he embodied the values of presidents like John Adams, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

"He believed that to whom much was given, much was expected," Meacham said.

Meacham highlighted some of Bush's greatest accomplishments, including managing the end of the Cold War and signing the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"An imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union," Meacham said.

Public speaking wasn't Bush's strong suit, Meacham noted, mentioning Bush's acknowledgement of his shortcomings. Meacham then dove into Bush's marriage to Barbara Bush, who died earlier this year. They were married for more than 70 years.

Bush was a "loving man, with an all-enveloping heart," Meacham said.

Meacham circled back to the beginning of his speech, when he noted Bush's plane being shot down in World War II. Saying Bush had the heart of a lion, Meacham said Bush was spared that day so that he could leave a lasting mark on the nation.

WATCH: Bush's casket enters National Cathedral for funeral service

Granddaughters Lauren Bush Lauren and Ashley Walker Bush deliver first reading

Lauren Bush Lauren and Ashley Walker Bush, granddaughters of the former president, delivered the first reading of the service. 

They read from Isaiah 60:1-5, 18-20.

Bush's funeral service begins

Former President George H.W. Bush's state funeral service began just after 11 a.m. on the East Coast at the Washington National Cathedral.

Members of the Bush family, including son and former President George W. Bush, arrived, and briefly greeted President Donald Trump and three other former presidents and their spouses seated in the first pew. They were escorted to their seats by Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard.

The service is being broadcast live. 

Twitter users pay tribute to 41 with #socksforBush

Former President George H.W. Bush was a man who spoke quietly — but wore plenty of loud socks.

In his later years, he often wore special socks to promote causes like voting and Down Syndrome awareness.

"I like a colorful sock. I'm a sock man," he told his granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager during a 2012 "Today" Show interview. 

As his funeral began, social media users paid tribute to him by posting pictures of themselves wearing fun or colorful socks using the hashtag #socksforBush. 

The 41st president will be buried in a special pair of socks celebrating his service as a Navy pilot during World War II. 

WATCH: Trump arrives for funeral service, greets Obama

Trump, Obama shake hands in apparent first interaction since inauguration

There was an awkward moment when President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were seated in the front pew.

Former President Barack Obama reached out to shake Trump's hand, and former President Bill Clinton looked across the Obamas as if he wanted to make some sort of connection with Trump. But Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 presidential election, gave no sign of acknowledging Trump. Instead, she nodded to Melania Trump, who waved to her and former President Jimmy Carter.

The Obama-Trump handshake appears to be their first direct interaction since Trump's inauguration nearly two years ago.

President George W. Bush, former GOP senator among those giving eulogies

Four men will eulogize President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday at his state funeral in Washington, D.C.

They are as follows:

Jon Meacham

Meacham, a presidential historian, published in 2015 the definitive biography of the elder Bush president: "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush."

Brian Mulroney

The former Canadian prime minister, Mulroney is a longtime friend of the ex-president.

Alan Simpson

The former GOP senator from Wyoming said his friendship with Bush dates back to the 1960s when his father sold his Washington, D.C., home to the future president.

George W. Bush

Not since John Quincy Adams won the 1824 presidential election had the son of a president gone on to serve as the commander-in-chief. That was until Bush won the 2000 election, following in his father's footsteps. The 43rd president is the eldest of his father's six children, who also include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a one-time presidential candidate himself.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston visits 'presidents' row'

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who represents a Houston district and is known for making her way to the center aisle of the House chamber for State of the Union addresses, visited "presidents' row" in the cathedral, where she spoke with former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As she arrived, former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton shared a warm embrace and then Michelle Obama hugged Jackson Lee.

Trump motorcade arrives at Cathedral

The Trump motorcade pulled to a stop at Washington National Cathedral at 10:35 a.m.

Onlookers lined Pennsylvania Avenue and 22d Street. A policeman in a yellow reflective jacket held a salute as it passed M St.

Bush's casket is en route to National Cathedral

Barack Obama greets retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake before taking seat

Former President Barack Obama warmly greeted retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and two of his sons while, a few feet away, former first lady Michelle Obama exchanged pleasantries with Vice President Mike Pence.

The Obamas are seated next to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Biographer Jon Meacham, one of Bush's eulogists, waits in wings on cathedral

Bush biographer Jon Meacham, tapped to deliver the first eulogy, stood in the wings of the cathedral as roughly 3,000 mourners filed in, talking with William Bennett, who served as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — the federal drug czar — in the Bush administration and as Education secretary during the Reagan administration.

Andrew Card, who was deputy White House chief of staff for the elder Bush and White House chief of staff for George W. Bush, stood a few feet away.

Prince Charles, Angela Merkel among foreign dignitaries attending Bush's funeral

Here are some of the prominent people expected to attend President George H.W. Bush's state funeral in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday:

  • Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump
  • Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama
  • Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter 
  • Former Vice President Al Gore
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden
  • Former secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell
  • Charles, Prince of Wales
  • King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning

More notable arrivals, as seen by CNBC's Christina Wilkie: Supreme Court justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, as well as Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. Thomas hugged Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Gore, Powell chat at Bush's funeral. They weren't always so friendly.

Former Vice President Al Gore stopped in the center aisle of the cathedral to chat with former secretary of State and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Colin Powell. During the first days of Bill Clinton's administration, the two went toe-to-toe over the question of whether there was a parallel between rights for gay people and rights for people of color.

Powell and other military brass opposed efforts to allow gay people to serve in the military. But he reversed that position in 2010.

Powell ripped Gore's 2000 campaign manager, Donna Brazile, for saying that Republicans leaned on Powell and other black celebrities because they would rather "take pictures with black children than feed them."

Trump has not spoken with Clintons or Obamas since inauguration

President Donald Trump has not spoken with either former President Bill Clinton or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since the 2017 inauguration about two years ago, according to people close to both families.

He has also not spoken to former President Barack Obama since the peaceful transition of power, according to our sources.

The Clintons and the Obamas are among the guests expected to attend Bush's cathedral service Wednesday, along with the president and first lady Melania Trump. 

When Trump was asked if he planned to reach out to either of his predecessors on the pipe bombs addressed and mailed to them in October, he told reporters: “If they wanted me to, but I think we’ll probably pass."

Melania Trump attended former first lady Barbara Bush's memorial earlier this year in Texas, but the president did not attend that service “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends,” a White House official said at the time.

More current and former lawmakers arrive

Former Vice President Al Gore, former New York Gov. George Pataki, political adviser to George W. Bush Karl Rove, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who represents Bush's old House district but just lost in the midterms, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and many other lawmakers have arrived at the National Cathedral ahead the funeral service.

The service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET.

More than 50,000 people paid their respects to Bush at U.S. Capitol

Roughly 57,000 people came through the U.S. Capitol to pay their respects to President George H.W. Bush as he laid in state for the past two days, a source with knowledge of the count told NBC News on Wednesday.

This estimate includes staff and visitors.

 

Trump tweets he's 'looking forward to being with the Bush family'

Peyton Manning, Condoleezza Rice among early arrivals for Bush's funeral

Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning was one of the luminaries from across the political, sports and entertainment worlds who showed up early at Washington's National Cathedral for Bush's funeral.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former ABC News White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, who covered Bush, and former secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., all arrived in the chapel by 9:30 a.m. ET. Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, have also arrived.

NBC News is told by Cathedral staff that once everyone is in and seated there will be approximately 3,000 people in attendance — essentially the capacity of the building. 

A reporter's view from inside the Washington National Cathedral

Rarely seen Bush scrapbooks show love story that stood test of time

Ahead of the former president's state funeral service in Washington, Mary Finch, the audio and visual archivist for the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, gave NBC News a look at the rarely-seen scrapbooks that former first lady Barbara Bush kept of the couple's life together.

In total, she made 118 — and those memories are carefully preserved at the library in Texas.

View images of the one-of-a-kind scrapbooks, tokens of a private life the public rarely saw.

Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Bush recall final moments with George H.W. Bush

The twin sisters open up for the first time since the death of the 41st president, sharing with TODAY some touching memories of the man they knew as "Gampy."

Watch the video, and read more about their remembrances on TODAY here.

WATCH: Former Sen. Bob Dole salutes Bush's casket in emotional farewell

Dole and the former president were both veterans of World War II. Bush would go on to defeat Dole in the 1988 Republican presidential primary to win the party's nomination. 

"So much history in this moment," NBC News' Steve Kornacki wrote on Twitter Tuesday. "An intense rivalry for two decades with many fateful plotpoints, building to Bush's 1988 triumph in NH. But they put it behind them and days after the '92 election Bush emotionally passed the torch to Dole as the new top Republican in DC."

Coast Guard band members are struggling to keep their instruments warm

It's just a tick above freezing in Washington this morning, and members of the Coast Guard band who were standing in line to go through security said there isn't much they can do to keep their instruments warm.

But some of them use plastic mouthpieces to prevent the tongue-sticking-to-the-flagpole effect that can occur when they blow into a cold metal instrument.

The six words that changed George H.W. Bush's presidency

It became the most famous broken promise in modern political history.

George H.W. Bush made it inside the New Orleans Superdome on Aug. 18, 1988. He was there to accept the Republican presidential nomination and to launch his fall campaign against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

"My opponent won't rule out raising taxes, but I will," Bush said. "And the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say, 'No.' And they'll push, and I'll say, 'No.' And they'll push again, and I'll say to them, 'Read my lips: No new taxes!'"

READ MORE

Bush's is first state funeral since former President Ford

On Wednesday, President George H.W. Bush will have the rare honor of a state funeral at Washington's National Cathedral.

The ceremony has been held for some of the nation's presidents and other notable figures. This will be the first such funeral since former President Gerald Ford died in late 2006. 

A state funeral, usually a days-long event, is filled with military-related details from 21-gun salutes to musical pieces performed by military bands and choirs. The funerals are conducted by The Military District of Washington.

Some of the most recent presidents to have a state funeral included Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson.

What is a national day of mourning? Trump declared one in honor of Bush

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for former President George H.W. Bush, where in Washington, D.C., he will have the first U.S. state funeral in more than a decade.

The declaration has significance — flags will be flown at half staff and both federal offices and the stock market will be closed. In Maryland and Texas, where Bush began his political career, state government agencies and offices will be closed in Bush's honor. And in Maine, where Bush spent decades at his Kennebunkport complex, non-essential state offices will be closed.

The funeral itself will be broadcast live from Washington National Cathedral later today.