The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush lays inside the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 3, 2018.
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush lays inside the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 3, 2018.

Mourners lined up at the Capitol building in Washington Tuesday to pay their final respects to former President George H.W. Bush, whose body is lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

Visitors are allowed to walk past Bush's casket. Early on Wednesday, it will be transported to the Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service. Bush's burial is Thursday at his presidential library in Texas.

The nation's 41st president, who served a single term in the White House from 1989 to 1993, died in Texas, his home state, late Friday at the age of 94 after several years of failing health.

In a service in the Capitol Monday evening, Washington officials gave tributes to Bush. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stood silently beside the late president's casket for about one minute before the president saluted Bush, turned and walked out.

US President Donald J. Trump, with First Lady Mela
US President Donald J. Trump, with First Lady Melania Trump, salutes the casket containing the body of former US President George H.W. Bush in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 3, 2018.

The Trumps will attend the funeral, but are not expected to speak. Trump tweeted Monday that he is "Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush."

In an earlier tweet, Trump said, "President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him, I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!"

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said America stands with the Bush family "in mourning but also in gratitude. Gratitude for lives well-lived and duties thoroughly fulfilled."

Vice President Mike Pence said there was a kindness about Bush "that was evident to everyone who ever met him."

WATCH: Tribute service


Bush was sent off from Texas with a 21-gun salute and taken to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland aboard the presidential aircraft, made available by U.S. President Donald Trump. A motorcade carried the flag-draped casket to the Capitol, where a U.S. Army band played hymns, and family and friends gathered.

Bush's son, former President George W. Bush, looked emotional as he watched his father's casket placed in the Capitol Rotunda.

In Photos: Washington Remembers George H.W. Bush.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised President George H.W. Bush's service to the nation during World War II.

"As a young man, he proved his valor in the toughest circumstances. And for the rest of his life he was the same kind of public servant, committed to us all," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.

Political analyst Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia said Bush's stature among the country's 45 presidents has grown in the quarter century since he left office.

"It's pretty obvious as people look back, and as people are recollecting the Bush presidency, it looks a heck of a lot better than it did at the end of it," he said. "Bush of course was defeated for re-election and most people at the time considered him a failed president" because of a recession during his time in the White House.

"But now I think we can see in retrospect that he was actually quite successful," Sabato added, particularly in foreign affairs, as he helped shape the Western response to the demise of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. He also led the U.S. to a military victory in reversing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's takeover of Kuwait.

FILE - Former President George H.W. Bush attends a
FILE - Former President George H.W. Bush attends a ceremony to unveil a new garden named in his wife's honor, Sept 29, 2011, in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Moreover, Sabato told VOA, Bush benefits from a comparison with Trump's demeanor nearly halfway through the current president's first term in the White House.

"To be honest, at one point in history," he said, "it would not have been exceptional to have a president who obeyed and appreciated the norms of the American system and of the presidency, who was civil, who was kind to people and who rose above petty squabbles. But you know, things have changed, particularly in the last couple years. And the contrast between George H.W. Bush and the current president could not be more stark."

The flag-draped casket of former President George
The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard to Special Air Mission 41 at Ellington Field during a departure ceremony Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Houston, Texas.

James Baker, Bush's former secretary of state and his friend of 60 years, told CNN on Sunday he considered Bush as "the most kind and considerate person I ever knew."

He said Bush's "quality of life had deteriorated a lot" in recent months, but that near the end he was able to talk by phone with his adult children, including former President George W. Bush.

Baker said the elder Bush's last words were, "I love you, too," spoken to the younger President Bush, the country's 43rd president.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Wednesday has been designated as a national day of mourning, and that the White House flags have already been lowered to half-staff to honor Bush.

"The president and first lady were notified late last night of President George H.W. Bush's passing," Sanders said in the Saturday statement. "President Trump is scheduled to speak with President George W. Bush this morning and offer his condolences on behalf of himself, the first lady, and the entire country. A state funeral is being arranged with all of the accompanying support and honors. The president will designate Wednesday, December 5th as a National Day Of Mourning. He and the first lady will attend the funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C."

The New York Stock Exchange said it would be closed Wednesday in honor of Bush.

State funerals are traditionally held for current or former presidents and other officials designated by the president.

According to the website, a state funeral is a seven- to 10-day event and consists of three stages: ceremonies within the state in which the official was in residence, ceremonies within Washington, D.C., and then ceremonies in the state in which the individual has chosen to be interred.

VOA's Victor Beattie and Carla Babb at the Pentagon contributed.