Arnold Schwarzenegger attends Bush's funeral with his girlfriend to pay tribute to the man who gave him his 'big break' in politics
Schwarzenegger later earned himself the nickname of 'Conan the Republican' after he played a key role in Bush's re-election campaign
Renowned Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday paid tribute to the man who gave him his start in politics. The 70-year-old former governor of California was accompanied by his girlfriend Heather Milligan as they attended former president George H.W. Bush's funeral in Houston, Texas.
It was President Bush who appointed Schwarzenegger to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports about 28 years ago. The former bodybuilding star held the post for the remaining three years of Bush's term in office. Schwarzenegger later earned himself the nickname of "Conan the Republican" after he played a key role in Bush's re-election campaign, Daily Mail reports.
During the race, when he was at the height of his fame, Schwarzenegger flew around the country in his private jet to meet with governors and other representatives on his own dime. While it was Bill Clinton who won that election, the seven-time Mr. Olympia took on a similar role as Chairman for the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He became governor of the state a few years later.
Aside from Schwarzenegger, basketball legend Yao Ming was also in attendance at the service on Thursday. The service included eulogies from Bush’s secretary of state, James Baker, and his grandson, George P Bush, who addressed about 1,200 mourners who attended the ceremony at St Martin’s Episcopal Church.
A special train painted to resemble Air Force One carried Bush's casket, family, and close friends about 70 miles to College Station after the Houston funeral. He was buried alongside his late wife, Barbara Bush, and Robin, their daughter, who died of leukemia at the tender age of three back in 1953.
Here is an excerpt from Schwarzenegger's statement on the erstwhile president's passing on Medium.
Today, we’ve lost a great hero. George Bush was an inspiration to all Americans and we will miss him dearly. From the day he first put on his U.S. Navy flight suit and took off into the unknown, he always put his country first. He took on many jobs throughout his long career, and all shared one distinct trait: public service. His greatest legacy is that pure American spirit, that commitment to selflessness that drove him until the very end.
He was born in a time that seemed to produce an endless supply of heroes, but make no mistake: George Bush embodied everything that made the Greatest Generation great.
I will always be grateful to him for his friendship, for embracing me and imparting just a fraction of his wisdom during our time together. Some of my fondest memories are of sledding with him at Camp David and inspiring America to join our fitness crusade by hosting the Great American Workout with him on the White House lawn and listening to his speech advice as we flew between campaign rallies. I will never forget the pride I felt the day he appointed me Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. I loved to hear him surprise people with his wild side — explaining the pure joy he felt as he flew and jumped out of planes. I also loved to hear him explain his passion for this country — it was a true love that knew no petty boundaries or party lines. He taught me so much, but most of all, he taught me the power of serving a cause greater than yourself. I count myself lucky for many reasons; but for the opportunity to call George Bush a mentor, I can’t help but think I’m the luckiest man in America.
President Bush has left us for one last flight but his destination isn’t unknown. He’s flying into the arms of the love of his life, Barbara. This evening, each of us should take a minute to look up and offer him a silent thanks.