The U.S. Capitol played host to a hushed stream of mourners, paying their respects to former President George H.W. Bush, whose flag-draped casket, attended by a military honor guard, laid in the center of the building's rotunda.

Some of the mourners came by themselves. Seventy-five-year-old retired government worker John Fawcett of Washington came because "I just want to say goodbye." He called Bush "a fantastic leader," adding "I have the greatest respect for him."

Among some of the who paid their respects, there was a sense of longing for the "kinder, gentler" nation that Bush spoke of during his inaugural address.

DeForest Mapp, a freelance writer and producer from Portsmouth, Va., said Bush governed with poise and and charm. "He was a president with conviction," Mapp said, and added that "right now the country is in dire need of someone in leadership that has the right temperament for that position."

Thirty-five-year old Katie Perez came along with her husband and two young children. "I really appreciated the way he led the country with such grace, and I think we need more of that nowadays among all politicians. It was kind of the end of an era in that sense," Perez said.

Xavier Creguer came from Michigan with his father Tom, a Gulf War veteran, to pay his respects. Tom said Bush "set out to make a difference, and he did that until his last breath." Creguer added "I think that's what we as Americans need to do, in our hometowns, in our back yards and across the world."

Suellen Wheatley-Wilkins, a 66-year-old retiree from Delaware, said she saw the late President Bush and his wife Barbara "as the parents of my generation." He just set such a standard for the entire country," she added.

The country's 41st president was eulogized Monday night by Republican congressional leaders and Vice President Pence, who said Bush "never lost his love of adventure and he never failed to answer the call to serve his country."

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump stopped by later Monday evening to pay their tributes.

Trump has had a frosty relationship with the Bush family. He called his 2016 GOP primary opponent Jeb Bush "low energy," criticized the leadership of President George W. Bush and recently mocked the elder Bush's "thousand points of light" volunteer program.

President Trump still praised George H.W. Bush on Twitter as someone who "led a long, successful and beautiful life."

"Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family," he tweeted. "His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!"

Bush was the definition of establishment success: Yale graduate. Prosperous business career. Forty-first president of the United States. But to one admittedly biased observer, the elder Bush has always been shortchanged.

"As a result of him being a one-term president, historians hadn't paid much attention to him," George W. Bush told NPR in a 2014 interview. He called his father "one of the greatest one-term presidents in the nation's history."

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