Today White House staff, past and present, and other loyal supporters of President Bush - some several thousand - went to Andrews Air Force Base to give him, his lovely wife, the Cheneys, and their families a rousing send off.
This is one of the craft that serves as Air Force One:
Once the Bushes and Cheneys arrived, there was a flurry of photography:
After the National Anthem, former Vice President Cheney made some short remarks. He said, "This morning, I told Joe Biden: after eight years in office, you'll look like me." The amount of laughter seemed to surprise Mr. Cheney. He was in a wheelchair after injuring his back a couple days ago (terrible timing).
President Bush made some short remarks. He said for eight years he wondered how he'd feel at this moment, and now what he feels is gratitude and joy. He said he was also proud to have had a front row seat to history, seeing President Obama sworn in. He said now that he wasn't in office, he could freely make endorsements, and he told everyone to buy Mrs. Cheney's forthcoming book on James Madison off of Amazon.com. He said if he ever felt sorry for himself in the previous eight years, his wife reminded him, "Hey Buster, remember you volunteered for this." He said he hadn't yet seen his new home in Dallas, which was going to be his first "post-Presidency faith-based initiative." Everyone laughed.
After the speech, former President Bush worked the rope line, one last time. (I didn't want to get close enough for a handshake, as I was more interested in getting a good picture.)
The former first families approached the aircraft...
... friends waved a final goodbye.
Then the plane departed.
Recently, I have thought of this line from Gandalf:
"Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till."