Mon, Oct 09, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Navy's `George H.W. Bush' christened

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA

US President George W. Bush, center, with former president George H.W. Bush, left, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush walk together after the christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush in Newport News, Virginia, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

It was a rare and poignant moment, one that moved president Bush to tears.

Not the current President Bush, but the first, who was joined on Saturday at a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, by dozens of political luminaries and his extended clan -- including the son he calls "the president" -- to christen a Navy aircraft carrier bearing his name.

The christening of the George H.W. Bush -- the latest and last in the Navy's line of Nimitz aircraft carriers -- took place under rainy skies, punctuated by thunderbolts so sharp that at one point the elder Bush interrupted his speech, looked skyward and said: "I'm finishing, Lord! I'm finishing!" He seemed to burst with pride as he pronounced the occasion "any naval aviator's dream come true."

Though it was a day mostly of reminiscences for the 41st president of the US, who joined the Navy fresh out of high school and became a decorated pilot in World War II, the elder Bush also took the occasion to do something he does not often do: comment on the administration of the 43rd president.

"I am very proud of our president," the 82-year-old father said forcefully of his son.

"I support him in every single way with every fiber in my body," he added.

The scene was an unusual tableau, both political and personal, for the two Bushes, whose aides have been at odds, and not always beneath the surface, over the war in Iraq.

The audience included some who served both 41 and 43, as the presidential pair are known.

Colin Powell and James Baker III, former secretaries of state, were there, as was Andrew Card, who served as transportation secretary for the first President Bush and is the former chief of staff to the second.

But it was also a family reunion for the US's ruling political dynasty.

On the stage sat two presidents, two first ladies and a governor, all named Bush. Card, who was invited to join the current president aboard Air Force One for the trip, described it in deeply personal terms, saying the elder Bush was like a father to him, the current president like a brother.

"The president is going there not only as the president and commander in chief," Card said.

"He's going there as a very proud son," he added.

Built at the Northrop Grumman naval shipyard in Newport News, the George H.W. Bush will not be ready to sail until 2008.

For the christening ceremony, the carrier's hulking frame -- 335m long -- was festooned with red, white and blue bunting, a picture of the elder Bush attached to its bow.

This story has been viewed 3837 times.
TOP top