Military to Support Reagan Funeral
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 7, 2004 Military members around the country are working to honor a former commander in chief this week.
The death of former President Ronald Reagan June 5 set into motion a plan that will end up involving countless military members from all the armed forces.
As a past commander in chief, Reagan is being afforded many military honors, according to officials from the U.S. Army's Military District of Washington. MDW is responsible for coordinating arrangements for the many events leading up to Reagan's official state funeral in Washington June 11.
Traditionally, the president directs the secretary of defense to oversee funeral arrangements. This responsibility is further delegated through the secretary of the Army to the MDW commanding general.
In this role, the MDW commander, currently Army Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman, will escort Reagan's immediate family members during the formal events.
A military guard of honor will provide security for Reagan's remains during periods of lying in state, till 6 p.m. Pacific time June 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., and at the U.S. Capitol for 24 hours beginning 8:30 p.m. Eastern time June 9.
At every point in the journey, a joint-service honor guard performs an arrival or departure ceremony to honor the fallen president.
After Reagan's remains are transported to the East Coast, they will be carried at least part of the way to the Capitol by a military caisson from the 3rd U.S. Infantry, the Army's ceremonial "Old Guard" headquartered at Fort Myer, Va. The caisson is a converted transport wagon for a 75 mm cannon drawn by six horses of the same color.
A riderless horse will follow the caisson. "A pair of boots are reversed in the stirrups of the empty saddle to symbolize that the warrior will never ride again," according to information on the MDW Web site.
A military band will play at each phase of the official funeral events, and a military honor guard will fire a traditional 21-gun salute at noon local time on U.S. military bases on the day of interment.
Also as part of honors owed to a previous president upon his death, all U.S. flags flown on government installations will be flown at half-staff for 30 days from the date of death.