Skip to comments.Reagan Ceremonies to Shift to Washington
Posted on 06/09/2004 6:30:56 AM PDT by kattracks
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - The body of Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) was to be flown to Washington on Wednesday for state funeral ceremonies after more than 100,000 of his admirers paid their final respects to the former president at the hilltop library that bears his name.
The Reagan family was to escort the body from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to the nearby Navy base at Point Mugu for a flight to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington aboard a presidential Boeing 747. The body was then to be taken to the Capitol to lie in state until a funeral at the National Cathedral on Friday.
Reagan's casket will then be returned to California for burial at the library that evening.
In California on Tuesday, well-wishers filed past the former president's flag-draped coffin, a steady stream of people that continued past nightfall.
"It's a lifetime event. I wanted to show my gratitude. I wanted to show my love," said Jesse Garcia, 52, who with his wife traveled down from their home in Northern California.
Reagan, the nation's 40th chief executive, was 93 when he died Saturday of pneumonia, as a complication of Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites). He announced he had the disease a decade ago.
His death revealed that the popularity of the former Republican president, California governor and movie actor remained strong despite his long absence from public life.
"It is unbelievable what I am seeing on TV," Reagan office chief of staff Joanne Drake quoted Nancy Reagan as saying Tuesday. "The outpouring of love for my husband is incredible."
Mourners endured hours-long waits just to drive into a nearby college that was shut down to provide parking. They waited hours more to board shuttle buses to the library, which had to add more buses and extend the period of lying in repose to handle the turnout.
"He gave us eight years of service," said Keith Godliman, 50, of Santa Clarita. "It doesn't hurt for us to wait eight hours for him. He deserves us to wait eight hours for him."
About 106,000 mourners passed by the coffin from noon Monday until the public viewing ended Tuesday night, library officials said. The viewing period was originally supposed to end at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but the overwhelming turnout forced an extension to 9 p.m.
The steady stream was occasionally interrupted by the arrival of political figures and celebrities. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) stood quietly before the casket, made the sign of the cross, put his hand over his heart and left.
Visitors to the library Tuesday included Govs. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and celebrities Morgan Fairchild and Bruce Boxleitner, who arrived as representatives of the Screen Actors Guild (news - web sites), which Reagan once led.
As the last of the public buses shuttled mourners down the hill late Tuesday, those on board said it would not be their last goodbye to the former president.
"We're lucky here in Southern California. We are going to have him around here forever," Marisa Steffensen, 26, said, gesturing toward the site where Reagan will be interred.
Morgan Fairchild and Bruce Boxleitner
I know that Fairchild is a leftist, a supporter of abortion, and she was once "close" to the late liberal Alan Cranston, D-CA. Boxleitner is the husband of Melissa Gilbert, another leftist, but for all I know Bruce may not be so politically oriented.
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