Texas A&M Prepares to Open its Heart to George H.W. Bush

It's a sort of homecoming for President George H.W. Bush, who will be laid to rest today near his presidential library on the campus of Texas A&M University, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Bush, who died on Friday, did not attend the school.  Neither did his kids.  But he had a special relationship with college

."From the very first time he came, he was struck by the feeling of pride and patriotism that exists around here.  He loved the emphasis on core values like loyalty and respect, faith and family, pride and patriotism.  It means something here. They're corny, but everybody here embraces them.  He represented all those ideals," Mark Welch tells News Radio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.

The Dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service says the former president loved to visit with students, both on campus and in Houston.  They loved him and the feeling was mutual.  

President Bush, he says, cared about the school with his name on it.

"You might come into a class session where you were simulating being part of the National Security Council, giving a briefing to the president, and find the president sitting there," he says.

President Bush last visited the school last year.  This year, health problems prevented him from visiting with students. 

Before his death, he suffered from a form of Parkinson's disease, which limited his mobility.

Welch says President Bush was more than a rock star. He was a legend.

"Even our students today who never had a change to meet him quote him."

The George H.W. Bush library has shut down on the campus as the school gets ready for today's service. Flags are flying at half-staff around a fountain in front of the library, which will stay closed until Friday.

A Union Pacific train, dubbed the "Bush 4141" will carry the casket and members of the Bush family, among others, on a 70-mile route through eight small Texas towns, stopping in College Station.

“It’s a tremendous honor for Union Pacific to participate in President Bush’s funeral service,” said Tom Lange, assistant vice president of corporate communications for Union Pacific Railroad. “He was a man of great dignity and a man of the people, and we want to do all we can to acknowledge that dignity and show our respect for the way he lived and treated people.”   

This is the first time since the death of President Dwight Eisenhower that a president has been carried to his final resting place by train.

President Bush will be laid to rest alongside Barbara, his wife of 73 years who died seven months ago, and their daughter, Robin, who passed away at age 3, in a family plot on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M.

IMAGE: UNION PACIFIC

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