BILLINGS- Many Montanans watched in awe at the pomp and circumstance of the funeral of former President George H. W Bush Wednesday morning.
For Dr. Paul Pope, a political science professor at Montana State University Billings, his takeaway was simple.
“It brought everyone together,” said Pope.
Pope believes through the loss of such a great leader, for a few days, the nation rested its differences and was brought together to honor of his historic legacy.
“It wasn’t about who’s party was right or wrong. There was no partisanship everyone was there celebrating the life of a past president,” he said.
The funeral took place at the national cathedral in Washington, D.C. and was televised nationwide. A defining moment that captured the public’s attention was when all former presidents and first ladies, and current President Trump and First Lady Melania sat all in one row, together.
While some could see a bit of tension between the presidents, Pope said it was short-lived.
“There is always going to be tension between presidents usually partisan tension. But the nice thing is when they came in, they were cordial. They all sat in the front row and very little problems ever ensued,” he said.
And through all the coverage of the funeral, there were also striking moments of Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush, publicly coping with the death of his father.
“Seeing George W. Bush, he was definitely at his finest,” said Pope.
“He was never known when he was a president of being a very grand speaker and we joke about a lot of the flubs he made. But he was very eloquent, very direct and tied a lot of emotion to everything he was saying and it was very powerful.”
Pope said Wednesday’s events and even the days leading up to the funeral sends a powerful message to the nation.
“It shows you the importance of the office or shows you the importance of the person they’re laying to rest,” said Pope.
Pope said the nation witnessed a funeral with a lot of respect.
“I think it’s the right kind of message we want to send to the country.”
Pope also believes out of respect for the late President the partisan fighting on Capitol Hill may be put on pause for a “few” days.
But as a nation, he says the partisan rhetoric will likely soon pick back up.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News