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Collins, Poliquin reflect on the life of President Bush, prepare for final goodbye

Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin both attended the private ceremony for former President George H.W. Bush.

WASHINGTON (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- The final trip to Washington, D.C., for former President George H.W. Bush began Tuesday morning in Houston. He died at his home there Friday night.

President Bush's casket was brought to the airport in Houston where it was loaded onto one of the planes used as Air Force 1, but renamed for today as "Special Air Mission 41."

It was brought up the steps to the U.S. Capital to a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Hail to the Chief."

Inside the Rotunda, the president’s family and members of both chambers of Congress.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin told NEWS CENTER Maine how moving the bicameral ceremony was for all in attendance. In fact, Rep. Poliquin got emotional about his sadness over the passing of President Bush.

"It reminds us all that we are human and are on this earth for a short time," Poliquin said.

RELATED | Collins reflects on President Bush as his body arrives in Washington

Sen. Collins, who says we have already lost too many great Americans this year, is especially sorrowful about the death of George H.W. Bush.

She had a friendship with Bush and his wife Barbara that spanned two decades. She fondly reminisced about her visits to Walker’s Point, the Bush family summer home in Kennebunkport, and the kindness she witnessed them show to all of those around them.

Collins said that when she is allowed to approach the casket at the bicameral ceremony Monday night, she will touch it and say a prayer for her friend, and for his joyous reunion with his wife Barbara, who died in April of this year.

Something everyone we spoke with mentioned was the former president’s handwritten notes, which those who received them, even for the smallest of things, now treasure.

Collins received several over the years. But she just learned this weekend that President Bush's very last tweet was about her.

She had just given her speech about Brett Kavanaugh and why she was voting for his confirmation, a controversial decision for which she was highly criticized. But then the former president tweeted about the courage she showed in making her decision.

"It meant the world to me," Collins said.

Collins went on to say that as America reflects on the presidency of George H.W. Bush, she hopes we can learn from his example. She says that be looking at his civility and decency as a human being that "maybe, just maybe, we can end the terrible polarization that exists in Washington."