I heard there would be thousands of people heading out to the railroad tracks to see Bush’s funeral train, especially in our little town of Magnolia. There would be space for them to park and stand since we used to be a stop on the line and have an old depot that’s been turned into a history center. After some debate about whether it would be worth the effort, I decided to take a chance. It had been raining and the temp had dropped so I threw on my rain parka over my sweatshirt and took off.
Surprisingly and easily enough, I found a parking place in a church parking lot about a quarter mile from the tracks. I saw the cars had started lining the street so I thought I’d better park while I had the chance.
After a short walk, I joined the crowd as they lined the street and the tracks. People were in a jovial mood, laughing, greeting neighbors, drinking hot coffee and eating donuts from the local donut shop. A local realtor was handing out little flags. Good day for business, I’m sure.
After a while, the police or constables as they’re called here blocked off the street and children began literally “dancing in the street.” It was such an interesting mix of people gathering together.
Law enforcement, government workers as well as other groups came out to pay their respect.
First, we saw the helicopter and airplanes, then the drones went up.
Then we saw the train’s lights and heard the horn. It was amazing how everyone settled down into a respectful silence. There were no cheers, no yelling. Just watching, silently taking photos, waving and saluting.
The train slowed…
and I did not expect that I’d see the family in the cars! That made me get a lump in my throat. I hadn’t thought that the family would be with him. They were waving at us and taking photos of us!
At one point a cheer went up from the crowd and those around me were saying that George, Jr was waving at us.
Then, when I saw the glass-sided car that George H.W. himself designed for this very occasion with his coffin and the soldiers standing at his head and foot, well, that’s when the tears started.
I did not expect to get so emotional that day! I thought I’d just get out with the town, see something interesting and go back home. But it got to me.
I’m not very political, I don’t like to share my views because I find political talk causes division instead of bringing people together. I don’t know much about Bush’s presidency or his politics. But I was raised to respect the office of The President. And when I stood there watching that train pass by, I was deeply saddened. By a man’s death, yes, but I felt that perhaps the day where our government leaders were trusted, respected and honored were gone.
I know, I know, it started a long time ago, and maybe distrust has been there from the beginning. But I lived during the presidencies of Kennedy until today and you have to admit that trust and respect of the role of President have been an issue. Somewhere along the way, we, the people, have lost our trust and respect for our leaders.
I’m sure there are a lot of different reasons.
But what a day. I’m glad that I braved the crowd and weather. The way the people reacted and responded made me…dare I say it…proud to be a Texan.