An image of the late George H.W. Bush, his face beaming and his dome clean shaven, shot across the Internet this week, some five years after it was taken. On the former president's lap is a boy, stern-faced and also bald, in a shirt of matching blue.
"We wanted to share a memory," the Secret Service said in a tweet Tuesday, recalling that Bush in 2013 "learned that the 2-year-old son of an agent on his detail was diagnosed with leukemia and the detail was going to shave their heads."
Bush, then 89, did the same. And the moment held deep significance: Bush and his wife, Barbara, had lost their 3-year-old daughter, Robin, to leukemia nearly 60 years earlier.
In an interview about his haircut on the "Today" show, Bush said he identified with the boy.
"Little Patrick had leukemia," Bush said. "A lot of the agents shaved their heads. Why not me? It was the right thing to do."
More than 20 people saved their heads in solidarity with Patrick, the "Today" show reported. Bush's joining was "classic 41," the service said. But the boy's parents, Jon and Alexandra, who asked their last names be withheld, said they were "humbled and honored" by the gesture.
Thousands gathered Wednesday to honor Bush during his funeral at Washington National Cathedral.