Members of the public have joined politicians and the CIA in a major display of mourning around the flag-draped coffin of former US president George HW Bush.
Unlike the memorials for Mr Bush’s late wife, Barbara, and former Senator John McCain, US President Donald Trump has been invited to join the mourning.
The Bush family contacted the White House before the former president’s death to confirm Mr Trump would be welcome at the funeral, The Washington Post reported.
The move to put aside former disagreements between Mr Trump and Mr Bush was designed to avoid any controversy and facilitate a dignified celebration of the former president’s achievements, a former administration was quoted as saying.
The nation began its formal farewell its 41st President late Tuesday (Australian time) by queuing at the historic and ornate US Capitol Rotunda, where Mr Bush will lie in state until his funeral service at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday night.
A ceremony led by congressional leaders celebrated the life of the Republican president and father of 43rd president, George W Bush.
Among the thousands of Americans who filed past Mr Bush’s casket was his former service dog Sully, who travelled with his body on Air Force One from Texas to Washington DC.
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 3, 2018
Mr Bush, who died on November 30 at the age of 94, will be transported back to his home state of Texas on Thursday for a private burial.
President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, plans to visit with the mourning family at Blair House near the White House on Wednesday, while first lady Melania Trump will give former first lady Laura Bush a tour of the White House’s holiday decorations.
“The elegance & precision of the last two days have been remarkable!” Mr Trump wrote in a tweet.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened a session of the Senate on Monday heralding the “daring” World War Two aviator, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and wartime president.
“Year after year, post after post, George Bush stayed the course,” Mr McConnell said.
Theresa Murphy, 64, a retired New York high school history teacher, who lined up to enter the Capitol, commended Mr Bush’s character.
“His character speaks most, because of his character, how he handled so many important points in our history,” she said.
“The Iraq war, the falling of the Berlin Wall, he wasn’t (saying) that’s all about me,” Ms Murphy said, adding: “Can you imagine what it would look like if our president today did that?”
The federal government and some financial exchanges will be closed on Wednesday for a day of mourning.
Mr Bush was elected president in 1988 after serving two terms as President Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
During his four years in the White House, Mr Bush used US military power to end Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, steered the United States through the end of the Cold War, and condemned China’s violent reaction to pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.
He was dogged by domestic problems, including a sluggish economy. When he ran for re-election in 1992, he was pilloried by Democrats and many Republicans for violating his famous 1988 campaign promise: “Read my lips, no new taxes.”
Democrat Bill Clinton coasted to victory, ending Bush’s presidency.
Early in his political career, Bush served in the US House of Representatives from 1967-1971.
He lost bids in 1964 and 1970 for a US Senate seat from Texas.
Mr Bush is the 12th US president to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
The first was Abraham Lincoln following his assassination in 1865.