Touching meaning behind code word


America is still in mourning for its former president George H.W. Bush, who died over the weekend at the age of 94.

Mr Bush's body will lie in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. from Monday evening to Wednesday morning. It's a rare honour, which has previously been bestowed on Senator John McCain and Mr Bush's fellow former presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

The public viewing will give Americans a chance to pay their respects in person.

Mr Bush has received glowing tributes from around the world, with many hailing him as the country's greatest one-term president.

Some of those tributes have included a curious "code word".

CNN reporter Jamie Gangel revealed the word was also used to tell Mr Bush's family and friends he had died on Friday night.

"That code word was CAVU," she said.

"For anyone who has been a pilot, it is familiar. For those who aren't, it stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited."

The acronym held special meaning for Mr Bush, a former Navy pilot.

"He had a plaque in his office that said that. He always said that he felt it represented his life. The sky was the limit, he had had everything," Gangel said.

"I think it was a great and fitting tribute to him."

Former US president George H.W. Bush. Picture: AP
Former US president George H.W. Bush. Picture: AP

Speaking of fitting tributes, today 60 Minutes aired special interviews with three former presidents, recorded when Mr Bush was still alive.

"I think he's going to go down as the greatest one-term president ever," his son George W. Bush said.

"Because of his foreign policy. Deftly handling the end of the Cold War."

Bush Jnr said his father had taught him the presidency "is more important than the man".

"One of the jobs is to strengthen the institution of the presidency, bring honour to the office. And that, clearly, George H.W. Bush did."

"He was a good reminder that as fiercely as we may fight on policy and on issues, that ultimately we're Americans first. And that kind of attitude is something that I think a lot of people miss," Barack Obama said.

"It's been one of the great joys of my life, my friendship with him," said Bill Clinton, who defeated Mr Bush in the 1992 election before forging a close friendship with him.

"Our arguments were good-natured and open, and we continue to debate things all the way up until recently."

Mr Clinton read out the famous note Mr Bush left him after handing over the White House.

The letter has been widely praised as an example of class and civility - qualities that are often hard to find in politics.

"Dear Bill. When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that too," it read.

"I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some presidents have described.

"There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

"You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country's success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck."

The letter George H.W. Bush wrote for his successor, Bill Clinton.
The letter George H.W. Bush wrote for his successor, Bill Clinton.





There will be a state funeral for Mr Bush at the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday. Current President Donald Trump has declared an official day of mourning, and will attend the funeral, despite his history of animosity with the Bush family.

The President was not even invited to the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush in April.

"Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former president George H.W. Bush," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit and unwavering commitment to faith, family and country, Mr Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service.

"With sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership, Mr Bush guided our nation and the world to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War.

"Through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction."

Mr Trump's words were echoed in the tributes of other prominent Americans.

Michelle Obama has cancelled part of her book tour to attend the funeral and honour Mr Bush's "tremendous contributions to our world".

James Baker, a lifelong friend of Mr Bush who served as his secretary of state, told ABC he was "far and away the best one-term president we have ever had".

Mr Baker revealed one of his last conversations with Mr Bush, on the day he died. An aide told the former president his friend was visiting.

"He perked up. He opened his eyes. He looked at me, he says, 'Hey Bake. Where we going?'"

"We're going to heaven," Mr Baker replied.

"Good, that's where I want to go."

Mr Baker said Mr Bush's last words were to his son George on the phone.

"I love you too," he said.

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