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9:59 PM Sun, Dec. 09th

Thousands salute Bush funeral train 4141 on final Texas ride

The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard Thursday, in Spring, Texas, as it is placed on a Union Pacific train. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard Thursday, in Spring, Texas, as it is placed on a Union Pacific train. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

HOUSTON (AP) — Thousands waved and cheered along the route as funeral train No. 4141 — for the 41st president — carried George H.W. Bush’s remains to their final resting place on Thursday, his last journey as a week of national remembrance took on a decidedly personal feel in an emotional home state farewell.

Some people laid coins along the tracks that wound through the small Texas town so a 420,000-pound locomotive pulling the nation’s first funeral train in nearly half a century could crunch them into souvenirs. Others snapped pictures or crowded for views so close that police helicopters overhead had to warn them back. Elementary students hoisted a banner simply reading “THANK YOU.”

The scenes reminiscent of a bygone era followed a serious and more somber tone at an earlier funeral service at a Houston church, where Bush’s former secretary of state and confidant for decades, James

Baker, addressed him as “jefe,” Spanish for “boss.”

At times choking back tears, Baker praised Bush as “a beautiful human being” who had “the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker.”

Baker also provided a contrast with today’s divisive political rhetoric, saying that Bush’s “wish for a kinder, gentler nation was not a cynical political slogan. It came honest and unguarded from his soul.”

“The world became a better place because George Bush occupied the White House for four years,” said Baker.