Reagan Funeral Details
From Boy Scouts to Supreme Court justices, tens of thousands of Americans filed solemnly past Ronald Reagan (news – web sites)’s casket at the Capitol on Thursday, a quiet prelude to a majestic funeral shaped by his own hand. Visitors from the Reagan-era ranks of power and friendship flocked to his widow’s side.
Across from the White House, Nancy Reagan received a stream of visitors drawn from a list of the powerful, then and now.
“To Ronnie,” former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, first to see Mrs. Reagan, wrote in the Blair House condolence book. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Reagan and Thatcher shared a world view, conservative politics and enduring mutual affection.
Joanne Drake, chief of staff of the Reagan office, described the late president’s final moments before his death Saturday, as told to her by his wife.
“She told me that as he neared death and it became evident it was close, he opened his eyes and he gazed at her,” Drake said. “His eyes were as blue as ever and he closed them and died. She told me it was the greatest gift ever.”
Drake said Mrs. Reagan was “doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances” and was greatly comforted by the outpouring of support.
Reagan began talking about his funeral in 1981, the year he became president, family representatives said.
He asked George H.W. Bush, when he was vice president, to speak at his funeral, and years ago asked Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (news – web sites) Ã¢€” the first woman on the Supreme Court Ã¢€” to read at his service, specifying she read from a John Winthrop sermon that inspired his description of America as “the shining city upon a hill.”
Several years ago he asked former Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., to officiate, the family said, following a suggestion from the Rev. Billy Graham that someone else be approached in the event Graham could not do it.
Major roads will be closed and traffic in parts of the District will be disrupted Friday as the funeral procession for former president Ronald Reagan travels from the Capitol to the Washington National Cathedral in the morning and then to Andrews Air Force Base in Suitland, Md., after the services.
Friday’s service will bring to an end three days of ceremonies honoring the 40th president, whose coffin will be flown back to California on Friday afternoon for a burial service at the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
President Bush has declared Friday a national day of mourning and closed the federal government for the day. The District government and schools also will be closed Friday.
District police announced that several roads will be closed for stretches along the route that Reagan’s casket is driven Friday. Between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m., the procession will head west from the Capitol to Constitution Avenue NW, turn south on 3rd Street NW, continue west on Independence Avenue NW and then go north on 17 Street NW. From there, the motorcade will continue west on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, turn north on 22nd Street NW, turn west on Massachusetts Avenue NW and north on Wisconsin Avenue NW to Washington National Cathedral.
All of those streets and intersecting ones will be closed around 10 a.m. and will not reopen until the procession passes, District police said.
Additionally, several roads surrounding the cathedral will be cordoned off from 9 a.m. until Reagan’s casket departs sometime around 1:45 p.m. Those include Macomb Street NW on the north, Massachusetts Avenue NW on the south, 34th Street NW on the east and Idaho Avenue NW on the west.
Residents with proof of residence will be allowed onto the streets, police said.
After leaving the cathedral, the procession will head south on Wisconsin Avenue, turn east on Massachusetts Avenue and south on Waterside Drive before merging onto Rock Creek Parkway. The procession will follow Rock Creek to Independence Avenue, then to Maine Avenue, east on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway, south on Route 295 and, lastly, south on Suitland Parkway to Suitland Road onto Andrews Air Force Base.
In addition, motorcades bringing other dignitaries to the service could disrupt traffic on other streets, officials warned.
Metro officials said they expect brief delays on bus routes while the roads are closed. Because of the holiday, disabled and elderly riders who subscribe to MetroAccess must call (301) 562-5360 to schedule those trips, officials said.
Metrorail set a ridership record on Wednesday, when passengers made 850,636 trips on the subway — the highest level in a single day in the system’s 28-year-history. Officials attributed the mark to hoards of everyday workers and people who came to see Reagan’s casket, all of whom were directed by officials to take mass transit to get around numerous road closures.
The mark shattered a previous record set on Jan. 20, 1993, when 811,257 passengers crowded on for Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Typical weekday Metro ridership in the spring usually hovers between 670,000 and 690,000, according to Metro officials.