George H.W. Bush was once the leader of the free world, but even he worried at one time that people might not come to his funeral.
The spokesman for Bush relayed that 2011 anecdote on a day when members of the public waited hours to pay their respects to the 41st president at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., after his death at 94 last week.
Briefed in 2011 about his funeral and lying in state, the 41st President asked with typical humility, "Do you think anyone will come?" Tonight, people are waiting hours to pay their respects. This photo, taken Monday, is courtesy the Senate Press Photographers’ Gallery pool. pic.twitter.com/jveNxNlUYV
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 5, 2018
"Briefed in 2011 about his funeral and lying in state, the 41st President asked with typical humility, 'Do you think anyone will come?' Tonight, people are waiting hours to pay their respects,'' Bush spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted.
Commenters on McGrath's tweet noted how long they spent in line with the massive group of mourners to view the first president lying in state since Gerald Ford in 2006.
I’m one of them. I waited 3.5 hours in the cold with thousands of strangers to pay my respects. It was worth it. 🇺🇸
— Nick (@NickBakerInCO) December 5, 2018
It was an honor to be among the masses paying their respects.
— Jennifer Sherman (@jsherman16) December 5, 2018
One of the people paying her respects was Sami Kotb, the mother of TODAY anchor Hoda Kotb and a long-time employee at the Library of Congress. She captured the scene in photos Hoda posted on Instagram.
A post shared by Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:48am PST
A host of dignitaries also made appearances over the past two days to pay their respects to Bush ahead of Wednesday's funeral services at the National Cathedral in Washington.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump paid tribute to Bush on Monday night, when he was eulogized by Republican congressional leaders.
Former Sen. Bob Dole, 95, said a touching goodbye to Bush on Tuesday when he was helped up from his wheelchair and stood for about 20 seconds as he saluted Bush. Both men fought in World War II before they became prominent figures in Republican politics.
WATCH: Former Sen. Bob Dole is helped out of his wheelchair to salute the casket of George H.W. Bush in the U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/BeIz3USrHr
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 4, 2018
Bush was also accompanied by his beloved service dog, Sully, who was ushered in and stood by the casket for a few moments before lying down while guests continued to pour in and pay their respects.
A post shared by Alex Moe (@alexnbcnews) on Dec 4, 2018 at 8:09am PST
In addition to Bush's son, former president George W. Bush, former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and their wives are expected to attend Wednesday's services along with leaders from around the world.
The service in Washington will be followed by one on Thursday in Houston, where Bush lived, before he is laid to rest on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University.