Reagan tributes shift to Washington
After two emotional days in California, mourners on the east coast are now getting a chance to pay their respects to President Ronald Reagan. The former leader was brought to Washington D.C. on Wednesday for America's first presidential state funeral in three decades.
Reagan's body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for 34 hours. The flag-draped casket is lying under the dome in the same spot where President Abraham Lincoln was honored. Reagan's body was brought to the Capitol in a procession that featured a riderless horse, fighter jets and all the pageantry fit for a former president. Thousands of people lined Constitution Avenue to see the procession. Spectators applauded as Nancy Reagan emerged from a car in the motorcade. When her husband's casket arrived at the Capitol, Mrs. Reagan saluted and then reached out and touched it.
Inside the Rotunda, Senator Ted Stevens, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Vice President Dick Cheney all spoke about the nation's 40th president. Each recalled Reagan's principles and ideals, his fight against communism and the connection he had with the American public.That same American public will be able to view Reagan's casket through Thursday night. Thousands of people lined up outside the Capitol for the public viewing. In California, more than 100,000 paid their respects as Reagan's body lied in his presidential library.
Before Reagan's body arrived in Washington, there were some scary moments for politicians and mourners. About a 90-minutes before the start of the procession, police lost contact with a small plane that penetrated restricted airspace. Fearing a terror attack, authorities evacuated the Capitol with senators and the general public told to clear the area. Within a few minutes, officials determined that the plane was carrying Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher and did not pose a threat.
President Bush was not at Wednesday's procession and service because he was attending the Group of Eight meeting in Georgia. Bush, who will be back in Washington on Thursday, has declared Friday a national day of mourning. He plans to deliver the eulogy at Reagan's funeral, which is set for 11:30 Friday morning at Washington National Cathedral. After the funeral, the president's body will be flown back to California for sunset burial at the Reagan library.
Tens of thousands remember Reagan at public viewing in California President Reagan died Saturday at 93 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's