Skip to comments.The Reagan Public Viewing- Freeper Thoughts
Posted on 06/10/2004 8:54:43 AM PDT by RobFromGa
I just got back from a twenty four hour trip to Washington, D.C. to pay my respects to the great President Ronald Reagan. I was the 40th person from the general public to enter the Rotunda and see the flag-draped casket with my own eyes. Here are a few of my thoughts from the day:
I arrived into DC at 1015 am from Atlanta, and dropped my bag by the hotel and headed for the Capitol on the Metro from Pentagon City. When I got to the line area it was about 11:10 and there were about 30 people ahead of me. I called Kristinn of the DC Chapter and gave him a heads-up on what was going on at the head of the line.
We were right on the Reflecting pool (20 feet back) facing the Capitol steps where Reagans casket was to be carried into the Rotunda. The Mall and the Washington monument was behind us.
Georgia was well represented in the first 30, there were two families and myself, so we had 8 of the first 35 or so people in line. The people around me in the line were all great a couple from NC that had driven overnight to get there, and was driving back overnight, and a number of groups of 2-3 people that were all there like I was as something that we just had to do.
As noon passed, the sun got hot, and the water deliveries started coming, they dropped off 150,000 bottles of water along the street and started distributing to the crowd. At this point I took off my jacket and tie, to put it on later.
As an example of the goodness of conservatives, one man ordered 30 or more Dominos pizzas at about 1:30 and proceeded to hand them out to the people in the line, one pizza per 4-5 people. He got a great cheer. The line really didnt grow much at this point, only up to about 100-150 people by 3:00. But we speculated that people were lining up for the procession on Constitution Ave due to occur starting at 6pm.
As we were recalling our favorite Reagan stories, and comparing the parallels between Bush 43 and Reagan, one of the people next to me said Why are those people running away from the Capitol? We figured that there was something they were running to see, but two minutes later the Capitol police started yelling at us to RUN AND GET AWAY NOW, some asked whats going on , they said, WE WERE TOLD TO EVACUATE AND THATs WHAT WERE DOINGRUN AND LEAVE YOUR STUFF. People moved fast yet stopping to help people who needed assistance, and when we got a few blocks away, someone heard that there was an Unidentified Plane that was in restricted airspace in the vicinity of the Capitol.
A few minutes later, the ALL CLEAR was given and we all got back to our positions in line without incident, a few butted in, but they were moved back to the end of the line. But it added some excitement.
At 4:50 we were all listening on the radio of the person right behind me in line who it turned out later was one of the Speechwriters for Margaret Thatcher, and who was loaned to Ronald Reagan to collaborate on a speech for Reagan. This guy was quite interesting and had met both Thatcher and Reagan on numerous occasions. Anyway, I digress. We heard on the radio that the Presidents body had arrived at Andrews and was to be brought in for the procession due to start at 6pm.
The line was now about 1000 people long and I talked to Kristinn on the phone who was set up to watch the Funeral procession on Constitution Ave. He said that there were people 6 and 10 deep along the procession route. I could see swarms of people over near the route. The general feeling was a somber celebration of the life of Ronald Reagan, a man who changed our lives.
There were police everywhere and secret service types in plain clothes watching everyone. One man set his bag down and walked ten feet away and they were on him checking ID and the bag within a minute. He was still being radioed in and checked out ten minutes later. They were taking no chances.
THE FLYOVER at about 640pm was AWESOME. It happened right above us. A single jat streaked in from the South at about 1000 feet altitude (really low), followed by four groups of four jets in formation spaced about 20 seconds apart. The fifth group of four jets streaked in and one of the four pulled into a climb almost straight up until he disappeared into the haze of heaven. The 21 had their missing man depart. Fitting and awe-inspiring.
A few minutes later, we saw the caisson arrive at the foot of the steps of the Capitol and the riderless horse was behind it. I wish I could have seen that close up, but I had made my choice to be in line for the Rotunda. They carried the casket up the steps with Honor guards lining the sides of the stairs. At this point, they started moving us up towards the Capitol, and through Security. We were listening to the funeral speech when we had to throw the radio away (security).
They made us check our cameras (to be returned on the other side) and turn off cell phones. Then we walked another couple hundred yards and we went through a bank of ten-twelve metal detecros, then we were walked up to the Capitol West veranda to the front of the Rotunda.
I then got to stand in the most amazing place for almost an hour while the funeral ended and the room was readied for visitors. I was standing on the edge of the veranda, right in front of the entrance to the Rotunda. Facing the Mall, the sun set over Washington. We all had the same thought- the shining city on the hill.
The view was unbelievable and the same as that seen by Ronald Reagan when he was the first to be inaugurated on this side of the Capitol facing America. I was moved by that view. People around me in line were saying prayers for America and President Reagan and President Bush from that spot. I read JeffHeads words that I had carried with me for him.
At this point we were all lined up, and I counted my position in line, I was #40and Ronald Reagan was our fortieth President. I remember thinking I am glad I wasnt #42. (that was Margaret Thatchers speechwriter but I didnt tell him). At 9:20 or so the door to the Capitol opened. And we were admitted.
A chaplain in white gloves greeted us and I shook his hand and thanked him for taking good care of President Reagan. Then a minute later I was in the Rotunda with the flag-draped casket. I was only in there for about two minutes, but that was enough. My thoughts in that room were that a Great Man was gone, that there were few like him in my lifetime, and that we could have used his voice so much these past ten years as he withered from his disease.
But the thing I took from this day and from this man was his ETERNAL OPTIMISM-, the fact that America is great because people are basically great when unshackled and allowed to live in Freedom. And the American system is what makes that possible.
GOD BLESS AMERICA.
my thoughts on my day in line and the Public Viewing of Reagan, sorry it's so long, I left a lot of things out.
Post your thoughts here if you attended the Public viewing...
Thanks for this report.
But do digress a bit, what did the fellow have to say about Lady Thatcher and the President?
It is an amazing country we live in, I will remember yesterday for the rest of my life.
I am watching the public viewing on C-SPAN.
A soldier, missing part of both arms, and limping, just stopped at the casket and saluted. He has what seem to be healing wounds on his forhead. He must be one of our guys from Iraq.
He had the most reverent look on his face.
There is a part of me that wishes this week would never end.
I Saw Paul wolfowitz...accompanied by a Brig Gen.....and a young, adorable, crew cutted Marine Sgt. And then I saw, the Marine Sgt was on crutches, with no hands, his arms still bandaged. The Gen held his crutches for the Marine, so that he could render a salute to President Reagan.
I'm married to a retired soldier. My Daddy lost his right hand in a work accident. And I've known two Army Generals who served long after they lost legs in Viet Nam. I can't tell you how emotional this sight was for me.
God Bless America
You know, my sinus infection isn't going to get any better if my fellow Freepers keep making me cry like this.
What a wonderful account. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thanks for sharing.
I worked on RWR's 1980 campaign. My first campaign and my first election. I showed up to vote on election night. I must have had 10 RR button's on my jacket. The line was long... I politicked even while in line. "You're going to vote for RR, aren't you?" "You're not actually going to vote for Carter, are you? You want four more years of this?"
The Sunday before the election RWR came to Cincinnati. I worked the venue. He came to the Convention Center along with Charleston Heston, Jim Rhodes, Hugh O'Brien... I was a Reaganette. Had a cowboy vest on and a cowbay hat. I stood in front of the stage. The organizers were expecting maybe 2,000 to 3,000 people. I remember that the place was packed. The organizers had to keep opening up folding walls to allow the people in.
When RWR was leaving the state, I piped up... "It was nice to meet you, Mr. President." He turned and looked me and smiled as only he could. "Mr. President, I like that."
Made my young life...
God bless this great man! I miss him so much!
Thank you for the wonderful report!
He wrote the first Campaign song for Mrs. Thatcher. When he went up to her several years ago and stated his name and said that she probably wouldn't remember him, she said to the effect of "oh no I remember you, you wrote my first campaign song. but don't worry, we won anyway"
He said that Mrs. Thatcher and President Reagan always made little quips at each other and that they were very alike.
He said that Reagan asked her to put together four or five of her best speechwriters to assist him with a speech he was working on, he was honored to be one of the ones chosen"
He said that President Reagan gave him a pair of Cufflinks for his assistance"
He said that he regrets that he never got a photo with Reagan, he has everyone else including the Pope, but he just never got one when he had the chances, and he regrets it.
I understand that former Reagan staffers are "standing guard" in the Rotunda, taking shifts.
Not long enough, you mean. Great report...it was almost like being there.
Thank you for your observations. You stood not only for your self, but the thousands across the country who are unable to get there to pay our respects. Thank you to your and the other Freepers who've made the pilgrimage.
This is so good. I hope Ron will get it published in local papers so non-freeping fellow Georgians will feel as if they had been right there with him. I did.
Outstanding reporting (((((Rob))))))
Thank you for representing Georgians at such an historic event.
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