Thousands Gather to Pay Final Respects to President Reagan
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 10, 2004 Thousands of people waited patiently in line today on the U.S. Capitol grounds to pay their final respects to Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Thousands of people patiently wait in line June 10 in
Washington, D.C., to view President Reagan's casket inside the U.S. Capitol
Rotunda. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The 40th U.S. president will lie in state inside the Capitol Rotunda through the night and into the morning. Each person passing through the Rotunda to view Reagan's flag-covered casket receives a card that reads: "In Fitting Tribute From a Grateful Nation."
The former president died of pneumonia June 5 in California. He was 93.
Many who'd come to pay respects to the late president weren't old enough to have personally experienced Reagan's terms of office from 1981 through 1988. Yet that didn't seem to matter, as many "youngsters" waiting on the Capitol grounds in the upper-80-degree-heat seemed to have no trouble recalling Reagan's legacy.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Timothy J. Lindeman and his friend, Marine Sgt. Ronald M. Boos, had traveled from Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., to downtown Washington to pay their respects. Lindeman, a 28-year-old Iraq War veteran, said Reagan would be remembered for ending the Cold War.
Lindeman, who hails from Lancaster, Pa., praised Reagan for being "a man of principles" who "stood by his principles."
Reagan "saved the world from the spread of communism," Boos, 22, pointed out. Due to Reagan's foreign policy, he said, "Russia is no longer a communist country."
Boos, who hails from New Bern, N.C., said Reagan had provided the leadership "to win the Cold War."
Some people, like 23-year-old Rebecca Antezana, choose to avoid the estimated three-hour wait to reach the Rotunda and snapped photographs of the scene instead.
Antezana was about to snap a photo of the west side of the Capitol from her perch along Third Street, when she spied a small banner someone had evidently discarded after June 9's funeral procession. In a childlike scrawl, the banner read: "Way to go Gipper. Thank you for your work! You have the same hobby as me riding horses!"
Reagan played dying Notre Dame football player George Gip in the 1940s movie, "The Knute Rockne Story." In a scene from that film, Reagan's character lay dying as he told the coach, "Win one for the Gipper." Reagan, who'd joined an Army Reserve cavalry regiment prior to World War II, was an avid horseman. The president's brown leather riding boots were placed backward in the stirrups of a black horse -- symbolizing a fallen chieftain -- in the horse-drawn caisson procession to the Rotunda June 9.
After examining the little paper banner, Antezana, a State Department budget analyst, noted that Washington's political wars appear to be in limbo as Americans pay their respects to Reagan.
"All of that has been put aside for the mourning of this president and I think it's really great to see that," she emphasized.
The Northern Virginia native said she was also impressed by the civility of the crowds who'd gathered to see the fallen president's casket in the Rotunda.
"It's actually very quiet down here," she remarked. "It's almost a disturbing calmness, with this many extra people in the city right now."