A U.S. Navy sailor from Fresno was one of the pallbearers for President George H.W. Bush’s funeral Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Caleb Harrington of Fresno, part of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, called it a “surreal experience.”
“I got to stand inside the Foyer of the Capitol Rotunda with President Bush as we’re waiting to bring him down the steps,” Harrington told The Bee Wednesday in a phone interview from the nation’s capital. “That was a very surreal moment to just stand there, thinking that there’s a president laying in front of me right now and I’m about to carry him down the steps.”
Harrington, 25 and a member of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard since 2017, has been part of a high-profile funeral before.
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In September, Harrington was at Sen. John McCain’s service and helped his widow, Cindy McCain, lay a wreath at the Vietnam War Memorial.
Harrington said he remembers as a sixth-grader wondering what it would be like to be part of the ceremonial guard at a president’s funeral.
“I actually remember sitting in the living room with my parents watching Ronald Reagan’s funeral (in 2004) thinking, ‘Man, I wonder how you can get to be a part of that detail to carry that casket and fold that flag?” he said. “Sure enough, I put in a lot of hard work and I was blessed enough to be chosen to carry President Bush up and down the Capitol steps and carry his body.”
Harrington played football for Central High before graduating in 2011, then played one season at Fresno City College in 2013.
His coaches shared their reaction to seeing a former player on national TV.
“We here at Fresno City College are so proud that one of our players was chosen to take an active part in the farewell of a great man, George H.W. Bush,” Fresno City coach Tony Caviglia said.
Added Central coach Kyle Biggs, who was a Grizzlies assistant when Harrington played in high school: “Outstanding young man who you always knew was going to grow up to be a great person and do some special things in his life.”