Many current and former members of Congress attended the funeral for President George H.W. Bush Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington. Among those in the crowd: U.S. Rep. John Katko.
Katko, R-Camillus, said in an interview that it was an "amazing" experience, especially with President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter present for the service.
Former President George W. Bush, the son of the 41st president, eulogized his late father.
"It was really moving and the tributes to him were well founded," Katko said.
George H.W. Bush died Friday at the age of 94. The World War II veteran had a long career of public service. He was a two-term congressman from Texas, a diplomat, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president for eight years under President Ronald Reagan.
In 1988, Bush won the presidency and served one term before he was defeated by Clinton.
There have been numerous memories shared of Bush's public service. One of Katko's predecessors, former U.S. Rep. Jim Walsh, recently told The Citizen about some of his experiences with Bush. Bush was elected president in the same year Walsh won his first congressional campaign.
Katko said he met the late president on one occasion. He didn't remember the setting, but the brief encounter — he shook hands with Bush — occurred when he was a federal prosecutor.
With Bush's death, his one term as president has received a greater focus. Some pundits have noted that historians tend to overlook one-term presidents in favor of those who served two or more terms. There are exceptions for Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, two presidents who were assassinated while in office.
But for one-term presidents who lost their re-election bids, history usually isn't kind to them. But Katko thinks that will change for Bush 41.
"People are going to understand just how good he was as a president, as a leader and as a public servant," he said. "They talked a lot about when the Berlin Wall fell (in 1989) and the dignity and grace with which he handled that helped keep the hardliners in (the Soviet Union) from getting inflamed because he wasn't in your face about it. He was very, very subdued and lowkey about it because he knew how important it was to do that."
Katko added, "That shows you leadership isn't what you do so much as sometimes things you don't do. He was great."
For those present for the funeral and Americans watching at home, Katko hopes there was a takeaway from the service and Bush's contributions to the country.
Bush, he said, was a good guy and a good leader who "led with dignity and grace."
"He dispensed with bombast and bravado and tried to do what was right for the country," Katko continued. "We could all learn from that."