President Donald Trump was not in attendance at the Thursday funeral of the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Lewis was a longtime fighter for civil rights whose work includes high-profile parts like his participation in the Freedom Rides across the South, in which he and fellow activists rode buses together in an attempt to desegregate public transportation. Lewis and his allies faced racist violence throughout the journey. Although Trump was absent, public figures including former President George W. Bush turned out to Lewis’s funeral, and Bush delivered a tribute speech that got a standing ovation.
Bush’s speech receives a standing ovation #JohnLewis https://t.co/aSbRHSy4uj
— Caroline Hogan (@NPNowHogan) July 30, 2020
Bush told the crowd, in part:
‘[Lewis’s] lesson for us is that we must all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love, the call to service, and the call to sacrifice for others… We the people including congressmen and presidents can have differing views on how to perfect our union, while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is at heart a good and noble one. We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, in the power of democracy, and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground.’
Watch Bush’s remarks in full below:
"We live in a better, more noble country because of John Lewis."
FULL REMARKS: Former Pres. George W. Bush pays tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis. https://t.co/XXLy72MxX4 pic.twitter.com/xI05hgS7PE
— ABC News (@ABC) July 30, 2020
The lineup of other speakers at Lewis’s funeral — where attendees were largely wearing masks, according to footage — was set to include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and others. Besides his absence from the funeral, Trump also declined to stop by the Capitol to pay his respects while Lewis was recently lying in state on the grounds, although Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen did stop by. Trump has also been noticeably absent at the funerals of recently deceased public figures including the late John McCain and the late former president, George H.W. Bush.
President Bush: "We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his belief in the power of God, the power of democracy, and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 30, 2020
During Lewis’s life, Trump included the Congressman among his many targets for criticism. At one point, Trump even outrageously claimed that Lewis was “all talk… no action,” which simply could not be farther from the truth. Trump has simply staked his legacy on belittling those who’ve done actually constructive things for Americans.