Reagan "State Funeral" for Republicans ONLY!
No congressional Democrats were invited to address a ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday upon Reagan's arrival in Washington. The funeral was planned in detail by Reagan and his family dating back to 1989 when he left office. "I'd be honored to speak, and I know others would, too, who are Democrats," Senate minority leader Tom Daschle said. "But if that is the family wish, then certainly we'd respect it."
Daughter Tells of Reagan's Last Moments
Jun 8, 2004
By Ben Berkowitz and Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 60,000 mourners endured traffic jams and lengthy waits to pay their final respects to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan on Tuesday and his daughter told of a tender last moment when he suddenly opened his eyes and looked at his wife Nancy.
Freeways turned into three-hour long traffic jams as veterans, families with young children and people from all walks of life converged for a second day on the hilltop Reagan Presidential Library north of Los Angeles to pay tribute to the former president, who died on Saturday.
The stream of visitors passing by the flag-draped coffin was interrupted for about a minute by a visit from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, who closed his eyes in brief tribute.
Viewing was extended by four hours to accommodate the crowds.
Reagan's body will be flown to Washington on Wednesday. In the capital, military dress rehearsals took place for a funeral procession through the streets to the U.S. Capitol, where Reagan will lie in state for more than 24 hours.
The procession will include a riderless black horse, with boots turned backward in the stirrups, indicating that a warrior will not ride again.
Officials said more than 150,000 visitors were expected to line the streets in Washington, providing a security headache at a time when the U.S. government has already warned citizens to be on alert for new possible terror attack.
In an article to be published on Thursday in People magazine, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis, once the most rebellious of the four Reagan offspring, gave details of her father's final moments at his California home.
Reagan, the 40th U.S. president, died on Saturday at 93 of pneumonia after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
"At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother."
"Eyes that hadn't opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of love. If a death can be lovely, his was," Davis wrote.
President Bush and his father, former President George Bush, will speak at Reagan's funeral on Friday -- the first state funeral of a U.S. president in the national's capital since Lyndon Johnson's in 1973.
No congressional Democrats were invited to address a ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday upon Reagan's arrival in Washington. The funeral was planned in detail by Reagan and his family dating back to 1989 when he left office.
"I'd be honored to speak, and I know others would, too, who are Democrats," Senate minority leader Tom Daschle said. "But if that is the family wish, then certainly we'd respect it."
After Friday's funeral, Reagan's body will be taken back to California for burial on a hillside with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Plans were also underway to remember Reagan in his boyhood home of Dixon, Illinois, a town of 16,000. Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said the city would hold a candlelight service on Wednesday night, followed by a memorial on Thursday at the First Christian Church, where Reagan was baptized and taught Sunday school.
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