Presidential historian offers touching eulogy at Bush funeral

Jon Meacham touched on George H.W. Bush's military service, presidency and personal life.
12:56 | 12/05/18

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Transcript for Presidential historian offers touching eulogy at Bush funeral
And now the first eulogy. The service will come from John meet you. Presents biographer and long time friend. It's worked on this for many years city finish a draft two years ago. With a few more revisions last night. The story. It was almost over. Even before. It fully begun. Shortly after dawn on Saturday September 2 1944. Lieutenant junior grade George Herbert Walker Bush. Joined by two crewmates. Took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack the radio tower on Chichi jima. As they approached the target the air was heavy with flak. The plane was head. Smoke filled the cockpit. Flames raced across the wings. My god. Lieutenant bush thought. This thing's going to go down. Yet he kept the plane in its 35 degree die of dropped his bombs and then roared off out to sea. Telling his crewmates. To hit the silk. Following protocol. Lieutenant bush turn the plane so they could bail out. Only then. Did bush. Parachute from the cockpit. The wind propelled him backward and he dashed his head on the tail of the plane. SE flew through the sky. He plunged deep into the ocean bottom to the surface and flops onto a tiny raft. His head believe me his eyes burning. His mouth and throat draw from salt water. The future of 41 president of the United States. Was alone. Sensing that his men had not made it he was overcome job. He felt the weight of responsibility. As a nearly. Physical burden. And he wept. Then end at four minutes shy of news. A submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot. George Herbert Walker Bush. Was safe. The story. His story. And hours. Would go on by God's grace. Through the ensuing decades President Bush would frequently ask nearly daily. He'd ask himself. Why me. Why was I spared. And in a sense the rest of his life. Was a perennial effort. To prove himself worthy. Of his salvation. On that distant morning. To him. His life. Was no longer his own. There were always more missions to undertake. More lives to touch. And more love. To give. And what a headlong race he made of it goal. He never slowed down. On the primary campaign trail in New Hampshire once. He grabbed the hand of a department store mannequin asking for votes. We realized his mistake. He's. Never know god asked. You can hear the voice Dantre. As Dana Carvey said. The key to a bush 41 impersonation. Is mr. Rogers. Trying to be John Wayne. George Herbert Walker Bush. Was America's. Last great soldier statesman. A twentieth century. Founding Bob. He governed with virtues that most closely resemble those. Of Washington and Nevada news. Of TR and of FDR. Of Truman. And of Eisenhower. Of men who believed in causes. Larger than themselves. Six foot two pence them dominant person. President Bush spoke with those big strong hands making fists to under score points. A master of what Franklin Roosevelt called the science of human relationships. He believes. That too much was given. Much is expected and because life gave him so much. He gave back again and again and again. He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against un thinking partisanship. He stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination. And on his watch. A wall fell in Berlin. That dictators aggression. Did not stand. And doors across America. Opens to those. With disabilities. And it is personal life. He stood in the breach. Against heartbreak. And hurt. Always offering. An outstretched hand. A warm were ordered. A sympathetic cheer. If you were down. He would rush to lift you up. And if you were soaring. He would rush to savor your success. Strong in gracious. Comforting and charming. Loving and loyal. He was our shields. Endangers. Our. Now of course there was ambition to loads of that. To serve he had to succeed. To preside. He had to prevail. Politics he once admitted it is an appear undertaking. Not if you want to win it's not. And imperfect man. He left us a more perfect. Union. It must be said that. 48 keenly intelligent statesmen of stirring. Almost unparalleled private eloquence. Public speaking was not exactly. A strong suit. Fluency in English President Bush once remarked. Is something that I'm often not accused. Looking ahead deviated election. He observes. And arguably. It's no exaggeration to say that the undecideds to go one way or the other. And late in his presidency. He allowed that. We're enjoying sluggish times. But we're not enjoying them very much. His son may have run a mob get moments. But his heart was steadfast. His life. As he said. Was tell the truth. Don't blame people be strong. Do your best. Try car. Forgive. Stay. The course. And that was and is. The most America. Of decrees. Abraham Lincoln's better angels of our nature. And George HW Bush's thousand points of light. Our companion verses in America's national him. For Lincoln and bush both called on us. To choose the right over the convenience. To hope. Rather than to fear. And that he not our worst impulses. But our best instincts. In this work he had the most wonderful of allies and Barbara Pierce Bush his wife of 73 years. He called her bar. The silver fox and when the situation warranted to the enforcer. He was the only boy she ever cast. Her children mrs. bush like to say always wanted to throw up when they heard that. In a letter to Barbara during the war young George H. W. Bush had written. I love you precious with all my heart. And to know that you love me. Means my life. How lucky our children will be. To have a mother like you. And as they won't tell you they surely were. As vice President Bush once visited a children's leukemia ward in cracked out. 35 years before he and Barbara had lost a daughter Robin. To the disease. In cracked out a small boy wanted to brief the American vice president. Learning that the child was sick with the cancer that had taken Robin. Bush began to cry. Do his diary later that day. The vice president. Said this. My eyes flooded with tears. And behind the it was a bank left television cameras. And I thought. I can't turn around. I can't dissolve because of personal tragedy. In the face of the nurses they give of themselves every day. So I stood bare looked in at this little guy. Tears running down my cheek. Hoping he wouldn't see. But if he did today hoping he'd feel that. I loved him. Then. Was the real George H. W. Bush. A loving man. With a 885. Brands all enveloping. Heart. And so we ask as we commended his soldier's job. And as he did. Why him. Why was he spare. The workings of Providence or mysterious. But this much is clear. The George Herbert Walker Bush. Who survive that fiery fall into the waters of the Pacific three quarters of a century ago. Made today our lives. And the lives of nations. Free. Better. Warmer. And nobler. That was his mission. That was his heartbeat. And if we listened closely enough. We can hear that heartbeat. Even now. For its the heartbeat. Of a lion. A lion. Who not only led us. But who loved us. That's why him. That's why he. Was spare.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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