Citizens Honor Reagan Outside Cathedral
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 11, 2004 As public figures arrived in black limousines and SUVs to attend today's funeral service for President Ronald Reagan, ordinary people waited outside Washington National Cathedral to pay their final respects to the former chief executive.
As the start of the service neared, the sullen morning sky released a misty drizzle as umbrellas popped open among the hundreds of people who braved the weather for the arrival of the funeral motorcade.
Washington resident Susan Anderson and her 5-month-old
daughter, Eve, brave the elements outside Washington National Cathedral to pay
their last respects to President Reagan June 11. Photo by Gerry J.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"It's really an honor to be here," Jennifer Bresnahan, 19, declared as she peered out from under a dripping umbrella. The Georgetown University student noted she's an "Army brat" whose family currently is stationed overseas. She shared the umbrella with her Georgetown classmates Layne Bolin and Joel Devallon.
Bolin, 20, said she was paying her respects "to the passing of a great president and a great man."
Joel Devallon, 20, said he felt it was his duty to honor Reagan's passing, noting his parents had always praised the former president.
Just feet away from the Georgetown students, Susan Anderson draped a piece of plastic wrap atop the head of her 5-month-old daughter, Eve, as the drizzle continued. The 42-year-old Washingtonian credited Reagan for his 1980s negotiations with then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that led to the end of the Cold War.
Across the street from the cathedral, Metropolitan Police Officer Eugene Kennedy used humor and tact to keep the growing crowd of onlookers out of harm's way.
When people ventured into the street to get a better look, Kennedy cajoled them back onto the sidewalk. Asked if he'd ever seen such a large group lined up and down the city's streets before, Kennedy replied with a cheery, "Of course!"
President Bush had declared today a national day of mourning for Reagan, who died June 5 in California. Air Force One brought the former president to Washington June 9, where he was taken to the U.S. Capitol to lay in state till today's funeral. News reports quoted officials saying that more than 100,000 people had viewed Reagan's casket in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
After the funeral service, the former president was flown back to California for burial this evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.