By the hundreds, veterans, truck-drivers, teachers, civil servants, and other Americans poured into the U.S. Capitol to say goodbye to former President George H.W. Bush.
Few who spoke to questsin said they were motivated by any policy Bush stood for or anything he accomplished while president from 1989-93. No, it was his decency and his good nature – the very essence of being a gentleman – that drew so many to say "So long, George."
"He was my last commander-in-chief when I retired from the Navy in 1989," David Hall of Burke, Virginia, told us. "I saw him at his inauguration, but I never had a conversation with him."
Hall was at the Capitol to view the casket of the 41st president, he explained, "because he was honest and straightforward – a truly honorable man."
Wei Ping Lu, who emigrated from China in 1975 and now lives in Bethesda, Maryland, said he came to pay his respects to Bush "because he flew on courageous missions for the U.S. as a [U.S. Navy] fighter pilot in World War II."
Wei also recalled how Bush was one of the first U.S. envoys to mainland China and voiced admiration for "his understanding of China and our people. He had a very good relationship with the Chinese."
There was a hope and a feeling among the Chinese-American community, Wei added, "that relationships between China and the U.S. would change under [President] Bush and that China itself would change. That change started to happen while he was president, but it stopped when he left office."
Dressed in colorful African style and using a wheelchair, Dr. Delois Blakely waited in line patiently in the Capitol to "pay respects to my friend George Bush." Known for years as the "honorary mayor of Harlem [N.Y.]," Blakely, 76, has long taken walks through New York's best-known black neighborhood where she listened to and appealed for citizens and their problems. Her services have included petitioning City Hall, approaching state legislators on behalf of Harlem residents, or raising complaints about law enforcement at local police stations.
Recalling how she met George Bush when he was envoy to China in 1975, Blakely said "he asked me to help him when he ran for president [in 1980] and even though we didn't have many registered Republicans, I worked for him. I loved that guy."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for questsin. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.