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Death and state funeral of Ronald Reagan

Death and state funeral of Ronald Reagan
The casket bearing the body of former President Ronald Reagan lies in the United States Capitol Rotunda
Date June 5–11, 2004
Location Capitol Rotunda, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Participants 108th United States Congress
President Ronald Reagan
During the week-long events, each time Nancy Reagan appeared in public, she was escorted by U.S. Army Major General Galen B. Jackman

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, died after having suffered from Alzheimer's disease for nearly a decade. His seven-day state funeral followed. After Reagan's death his body was taken from his Bel Air, Los Angeles, California home to the Gates, Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California to prepare the body for burial. On June 7, Reagan's casket was transported by hearse and displayed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, then flown to Washington, D.C. on June 9 for a service, public viewing and tributes at the U.S. Capitol.

After Military District of Washington (MDW) and was the first since that of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973. Richard Nixon, who presided over Johnson's funeral, declined to have a state funeral in 1994. Reagan was the first U.S former president to die in the 21st century.


  • Death 1
  • Funeral events 2
    • Reagan Library 2.1
    • Departure to Washington 2.2
    • Events in Washington 2.3
      • Funeral procession 2.3.1
      • Capitol Hill 2.3.2
        • Public viewing
    • State funeral service 2.4
      • Dignitaries 2.4.1
      • Cathedral events 2.4.2
    • Interment at the Reagan Library 2.5
      • Return to California 2.5.1
      • Burial service and interment 2.5.2
  • Music 3
  • Security measures 4
  • Public and media comments 5
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


On the morning of June 5, 2004 there were reports that Reagan's health had significantly deteriorated, following ten years of Alzheimer's disease.[1] He died of pneumonia at his home at 13:09 PDT, at the age of 93.

President Paris when Reagan died and acknowledged the death in a press conference.[2] President Bush made the following statement on June 5, 2004:

American flags at the White House, across the United States, and around the world over official U.S. installations and operating locations, were ordered flown at half-staff for 30 days in a presidential proclamation by President Bush.[4][5] In the announcement of Reagan's death, Bush also declared June 11 a National Day of Mourning.[4]

Some of the early international tributes to Reagan included those of Queen Elizabeth II, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and French President Jacques Chirac.[6] Martin advised Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to order all flags across Canada and at all Canadian diplomatic missions in the United States flown to half-staff on the 11th as well, in sympathy with the U.S.'s National Day of Mourning. In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder ordered flags flown at half-staff above government buildings on the 11th as well.[7]

People marked Reagan's death by leaving tributes and condolences at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, as well as at locales around the country significant to Reagan's life, including his presidential library, his birthplace in Tampico, Illinois, the funeral home where his body was taken after he died, and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house in Eureka, Illinois.

After Reagan's death, campaigning for the ongoing US presidential election was considered disrespectful during a time of mourning, and was suspended.[8] The 2004 Canadian federal election was also to be held; Martin, Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, and NDP Leader Jack Layton suspended their campaigns, citing respect for Reagan.[9]

Funeral events

Reagan Library

Nancy Reagan leans her head on her husband's casket at his presidential library

On June 7, Reagan's body was removed from the funeral home and driven in a 20-mile-per-hour[10] motorcade, by hearse, to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.[11]

Reagan's casket, a Marsellus Masterpiece model,[12] was carried by a military honor guard representing all branches of the United States Armed Forces[13] into the lobby of the library to lie in repose.[14] There, a brief family service was conducted by the Reverend Dr. Michael H. Wenning, former pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, where Reagan worshipped.[15] When the prayer service concluded, Nancy Reagan and her family approached the casket, where Mrs. Reagan laid her head on it.[15] After the family left, the doors of the presidential library opened, and the public began filing in at a rate of 2,000 an hour throughout the night. In all, about 108,000 people visited the presidential library to see the casket.[16]

Departure to Washington

On June 9, Reagan's casket was removed from the presidential library and driven in a motorcade to NAS Point Mugu in Oxnard, California;[17] it was the same airfield Reagan flew into and out of during his presidency when visiting his California ranch.[18] SAM 28000, one of the two Boeing 747-200s, which usually serves the president as Air Force One, arrived to transport the casket to Washington. Thousands of people gathered to witness the plane's departure. Just before she boarded the VC-25A Presidential Aircraft, Nancy Reagan waved to the crowd with her military escort at her side. The plane lifted off at about 9:40 AM PST.[19]

Events in Washington

The caisson with President Reagan's casket on Constitution Avenue, marching to the Capitol
The riderless horse, Sergeant York, with Reagan's own riding boots reversed in the stirrups.
The Bushes pay their respects to Reagan

In Washington, D.C., members of Congress, and much of the public, paid tribute to Reagan immediately after his death and throughout his funeral.

Funeral procession

Events in the capital began when Reagan's casket arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. It was removed from the plane, driven by hearse in a procession through the Maryland and Virginia suburbs and the nation's capital, across the Memorial Bridge, and onto Constitution Avenue.[20]

Just before the plane arrived at Andrews, the Capitol was evacuated for a brief period, for a plane carrying Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher was off course and created a scare by entering restricted airspace; the incident was attributed to radio problems on board the plane and did not affect funeral events.[21]

Near the Ellipse, and within sight of the White House, the hearse halted and Reagan's body was transferred to a horse-drawn caisson for the procession down Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill.[20] Nancy Reagan stepped out of her limousine to witness the body's transfer; she was met with a warm greeting, including applause.[20] The cortege began the 45 minute journey just after 6:00 PM EST, with the Reagan family following in limousines.[20] Military units escorted the caisson as it made its way to the sounds of muffled drums. Behind the caisson was a riderless horse named Sergeant York, carrying Reagan's riding boots reversed in the stirrups.[22] The caisson paused at 4th street and Constitution Avenue, where 21 Air Force F-15's from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina flew over in missing man formation.

Capitol Hill

The caisson stopped when it arrived at Capitol Hill; military units removed it, and "Hail to the Chief" was played amidst a 21-gun salute.[23][24] The casket was carried up the west front steps of the Capitol, mainly because Reagan was first inaugurated there and he wanted to face west, toward California.[24] Two teams of military body bearers carried the casket up the steps of the Capitol to "Battle Hymn of the Republic".[23][24]

When the casket reached the top of the steps, Nancy Reagan and her military escort met it. As the casket passed them, Mrs. Reagan momentarily pulled away from her escort, reached out, and touched the casket.[24] They followed it inside to the rotunda.

The casket was placed under the rotunda, where it lay in state on Abraham Lincoln's catafalque.[25] An evening memorial service then took place, with dignitaries primarily composed of Congressional members, members of the United States Supreme Court, and the diplomatic corps;[26] the Reverend Daniel Coughlin, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, gave the invocation.[27] Eulogies were then delivered by Senate President pro tempore Ted Stevens, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Vice President Dick Cheney.[27]

After the eulogies, the three speakers each laid a wreath at the casket, and the Senate Chaplain, the Reverend Barry Black, gave the benediction.[27] Cheney escorted Mrs. Reagan to the casket, where she said her goodbyes.[27] The dignitaries in the room paid their respects during the next half hour. In a rare instance, the doors of the Capitol were then opened to the public, who stood in lines stretching many blocks to view the casket.[25]

Public viewing

The general public stood in long lines waiting for a turn to pay their respects to the president. People passed by the casket at a rate of about 5,000 per hour (83.3 per minute resp. 1.4 per second) and the wait time for some exceeded seven hours. In all, 104,684 paid their respects when Reagan lay in state.[28][29] The Washington Metro subway set a then daily record in ridership of 850,636 as a result.[30]

After returning to Washington following the Laura Bush visited the rotunda to pay their respects.[31] Many world leaders did the same, including interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer, former Polish president Lech Wałęsa, Gorbachev, and Thatcher, Reagan's good friend and associate.[31]

While Reagan's casket lay in state, Nancy Reagan and her family took up temporary residence in Blair House, the official residence of guests of the President of the United States.[31] There, she was greeted by additional dignitaries and public figures. During a visit from Thatcher, the former Prime Minister wrote in the Blair House condolence book, "To Ronnie, Well done, thou good and faithful servant."[31]

State funeral service

Reagan's casket is carried into the Washington National Cathedral, June 11
Yasuhiro Nakasone (far left), Mikhail Gorbachev (second from left), Brian Mulroney (center), and Margaret Thatcher (right) attend the service.
President Bush delivers a eulogy to President Reagan

After thirty-four hours of lying in state, the doors of the Capitol were closed to the public and Nancy Reagan was escorted in, where she had a moment alone with the casket. A military honor guard entered and carried it down the west steps of the Capitol to a 21-gun salute where Mrs. Reagan, holding her hand over her heart, met it.[32] After it was placed in a hearse, the motorcade departed on the five mile-trip to the Washington National Cathedral, where the state funeral service was to be held; crowds lined the route of the cortege as the hearse made its way.[32]


About 4,000 people gathered at the cathedral for the service, including President and Mrs. Bush, former presidents Barbara Bush, Gerald and Betty Ford, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. Members of Congress and past and present governors were also present.[33]

Foreign dignitaries attended as well, coming from 165 nations. The dignitaries included 36 past and present heads of state and government, and [7] For Karzai, the funeral was part of his week-long visit to the U.S. and it was the beginning of his visit to Washington. He scrapped a visit to the West Coast to visit the Afghan community there to attend the funeral.[34] World leaders that attended the summit, but decided not to extend their stay in the U.S. to attend the funeral paid tribute at the summit, including Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, also president of the European Union, and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.[35] McAleese's presence had special significance, as she paid tribute to Reagan's Irish roots, recalling his visit to Ireland in 1984.[36]

The funeral for Reagan was the largest in the United States since that of John F. Kennedy in 1963,[7][37] President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg both attended.[38]

Cathedral events

The motorcade arrived at the Cathedral and Reagan's casket was removed. The bearers carrying it paused on the Cathedral steps, and an opening prayer was given by Bishop John Bryson Chane, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral.[39] The casket was then carried down the aisle; the Reagan family followed and Mrs. Reagan was escorted to her seat by President Bush. Rabbi Harold Kushner and Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (the first female Supreme Court justice, whom Reagan appointed), then each gave a reading, which preceded the eulogies.[39] The choir then sang hymns—"Faire is the Heaven"; "Bring Us, O Lord"; "And I saw a New Heaven"[40]—before Thatcher delivered the first eulogy. In view of her failing mental faculties following several small strokes, the message had been pre-recorded several months earlier and was broadcast throughout the Cathedral on plasma television screens. During the speech, Thatcher said, "We have lost a great president, a great American and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend."[39]

Following Thatcher's eulogy, Mulroney delivered his, ending with: "In the presence of his beloved and indispensable Nancy, his children, his family, his friends and all of the American people that he so deeply revered, I say au revoir today to a gifted leader and historic president and a gracious human being."[39]

Former President George H. W. Bush then spoke, his voice breaking at one point when describing Reagan;[39] Bush had been Reagan's Vice President from 1981 to 1989. His son, President George W. Bush, was the last to give a eulogy, saying in part, "Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us... In his last years he saw through a glass darkly. Now he sees his Savior face to face. And we look for that fine day when we will see him again, all weariness gone, clear of mind, strong and sure and smiling again, and the sorrow of this parting gone forever."[39]

The choir then sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, delivered a Bible reading from the Gospel of Matthew.[39] The celebrant, former Missouri Senator the Reverend John C. Danforth, delivered the homily[41] and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang songs such as "Ave Maria" and "Amazing Grace" at the request of Nancy Reagan.[32] The Reverend Ted Eastman, former Bishop of Maryland, delivered the benediction, flanked by Reverend Danforth and Reverend Chane.

Interment at the Reagan Library

The memorial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Nancy Reagan says her last goodbyes to the president just before the interment
Mrs. Reagan walks away from President Reagan's grave site after accepting the flag and saying her goodbyes
Reagan's tomb

Return to California

After the service, the casket was removed from the cathedral and driven to Andrews Air Force Base for the return to California, passing crowds along its route.[42] The family and close friends boarded the VC 25-A Presidential Aircraft,[43] and as she had done previously, Nancy Reagan waved farewell to the crowds just before boarding the plane.

About five hours after the aircraft departed Andrews, it touched down at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California. The public, including sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan, was there to witness the plane's arrival.[44] Reagan's body was driven in a large motorcade on one final trip though the streets of southern California.

Burial service and interment

The service drew 700 invited guests, including former Reagan administration officials such as Margaret Thatcher, who travelled on the plane from Washington, sat next to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger[45] and his wife Maria Shriver; former California Governor Pete Wilson was in attendance, as well as former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.[43] Hollywood actors and other celebrities also attended, including Mr. Reagan's first wife, actress Jane Wyman, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, Dolores Hope (widow of Bob Hope), Merv Griffin, Tommy Lasorda, Wayne Gretzky, Scott Baio, Bo Derek, Tom Selleck, Pat Sajak, Wayne Newton, and the Sinatra family.[45][46] The three surviving Reagan children, Michael, Patti, and Ron, gave final eulogies at the interment ceremony.[47]

Eulogies finished, and the service over, the Air Force Band of the Golden West played four "ruffles and flourishes", and the U.S. Army Chorus sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". Bagpiper Eric Rigler played "Amazing Grace" as the casket was moved to its grave site and placed on a plinth.[43] There, burial rites were given, followed by a last 21-gun salute;[45] members of the armed services fired three volleys and a bugler played "Taps".[45] At that time, four Navy F/A-18 fighter jets flew over in missing man formation,[43][45] and the flag that flew over the Capitol during President Reagan's 1981 inauguration was folded by the honor guard and was presented to Nancy Reagan by Captain James Symonds, the commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan.[44]

After Nancy Reagan accepted the flag, she approached the casket and spent several minutes patting and stroking it.[43] She laid her head down on the casket, before breaking down and crying; The Washington Post described Mrs. Reagan as having been "stoic through nearly a week of somber rituals" but she "surrendered to her grief after being handed the flag that had covered her husband's coffin."[42] While she cried, she kissed the casket and said "I love you".[45] Her children surrounded her, and attempted to console her.[45] Mrs. Reagan then walked away with her military escort, clutching the folded flag. The military band began to play the Victorian hymn "My Faith Looks Up to Thee" as the Reagan children said their goodbyes. Funeral attendees had an opportunity to file past the coffin.

The casket was lowered into the vault and closed approximately before 3:00 AM PDT the next day. The exterior of the horseshoe shaped monument is inscribed with a quote Ronald Reagan delivered in 1991:[45]


Music played during the week-long events included four ruffles and flourishes, "Hail to the Chief", "My Country 'Tis of Thee", "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", "Amazing Grace", "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" (also known as "The Navy Hymn"), "God of Our Fathers", "Mansions of the Lord", "God Bless America", "America the Beautiful", "Going Home", and "On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss" by David Holsinger.[40][43][45]

Security measures

The state funeral marked the first time that Washington hosted a major event since the September 11 attacks.[49] As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated the state funeral a National Special Security Event (NSSE).[50] Special precautions were taken because many of the events were open to the public and there were multiple protectees.[50] As means of assisting the motorcade, many streets were temporarily blocked off by law enforcement.[50]

Attorney General John Ashcroft told a Senate hearing before the funeral: "It is a sad commentary when the observation of a memorial service for a former president of the United States must be labeled a National Special Security Event. Such is the fact of modern life in Washington and such is the nature of the war against al Qaeda."[51] MPDC Chief Charles H. Ramsey agreed saying, "In a post-9/11 world, we have to be very concerned...and aware of the potential that something could happen, not that we've received any information at all."[52]

However, DHS was handling another NSSE at the same time: the G-8 Summit in

  • An Eyewitness Account by a Congressional Page: The Gipper & Me
  • The Burial of a President – Details about Reagan's burial
Eyewitness accounts
  • State Funeral of Ronald Reagan-Washington National Cathedral
  • Biography of Ronald Reagan from the White House
Additional coverage and photos
  • CNN Coverage of the Passing of Ronald Reagan
  • The Washington PostCoverage in
  • MSNBC Coverage of the Passing of Ronald Reagan
  • USA TodayCoverage in
  • BBC Reagan's Mixed White House Legacy
  • CBC In Depth-Ronald Reagan
  • CTV Ronald Reagan-A Look Back
Newspaper and media coverage
  • Full video coverage on C-SPAN
Video coverage of the funeral

External links

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  4. ^ a b George W. Bush, "Announcing the death of Ronald Reagan". Press release, Office of the Press Secretary, June 6, 2004.
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  9. ^ Blanchfield, Mike; Gordon, Sean (June 6, 2004). "'Brian, I think the end is near': Nancy Reagan's words reveal family's fondness for Mulroney". Ottawa Citizen. p. A1. 
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  13. ^ "Ronald Reagan laid to rest in California". CBC News. June 12, 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  14. ^ "Outline of Funeral Events in Honor of Ronald Wilson Reagan" (Press release). The Office of Ronald Reagan. June 6, 2004. Archived from the original on April 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  15. ^ a b "Mourners gather for first of farewells". The St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. June 8, 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  16. ^ "100,000 file past Reagan's casket". CNN. June 9, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  17. ^ Wilson, Jeff (June 9, 2004). "Plane carrying Reagan's casket leaves for Washington for his state funeral". High Beam Research, Inc. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  18. ^ Roberts, Steven V (August 14, 1987). "Reagan's Helicopter In a Near-Collision With a Small Plane". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
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  24. ^ a b c d Davis, Julie Hirschfield (June 10, 2004). "A nation pays its respects". The Baltimore Sun (Fox News, Channel 59 Inndianapolis). Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  25. ^ a b "Thousands pay tribute to Reagan". CNN. June 11, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  26. ^ Loughlin, Sean (June 10, 2004). "Reagan's body lies in state". CNN. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  27. ^ a b c d Dewar, Helen and Charles Babington (June 10, 2004). "GOP Leaders Eulogize The 40th President". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  28. ^ Lak, Daniel. "Reagan lies in state at Capitol". BBC, June 11, 2004. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  29. ^ "United States Capitol Police Press Releases: Lying In State for former President Reagan". United States Capitol Police. Retrieved on 2008-03-09
  30. ^ Ginsberg, Stephen and Fred Barbash (June 11, 2004). "Road Closures Planned in District". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  31. ^ a b c d "President Bush, Tens of Thousands Visit Casket". Fox News. Associated Press. June 10, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  32. ^ a b c Branigin, William (June 11, 2004). "Thousands Bid Farewell to Reagan in Funeral Service". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  33. ^ a b c "Reagan funeral guest list". BBC. June 10, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  34. ^ Low, Valentine (8 June 2004). "Nancy says goodbye; She touched her cheek on coffin draped in US flag". Evening Standard [London (UK)]. p. 17. A planned appearance by Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon was postponed indefinitely. 
  35. ^ "Funeral: Ronald Reagan (2004)". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  36. ^ Beesley, Arthur (June 7, 2004). "Ahern salutes a 'determined opponent of communism'". The Irish Times. p. 11. 'President Reagan was proud of his Irish heritage and during his time in the White House, he celebrated St Patrick's Day with great ceremony. In 1984, President Reagan visited Ireland, an occasion still remembered with great fondness by many here.' 
  37. ^ Koring, Paul (June 7, 2004). "State funeral for Reagan expected to rival JFK's". The Globe and Mail. p. A1. After almost a week of mourning, Americans will bid a final farewell to former president Ronald Reagan with a full state funeral Friday, an event expected to be the largest ceremonial occasion in the U.S. capital since the  
  38. ^ Seelye, Katharine (June 12, 2004). "Service Draws a Mix of the Elite, Some Solemn, Some Social". The New York Times. p. A10. Caroline Kennedy...seemed to pass she and her husband, Edwin A. Schlossberg...Now 46, Ms. Kennedy was just turning 6 at the time of the state funeral for her father in 1963. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g "The State Funeral of Ronald Reagan". CNN. June 11, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  40. ^ a b "Preludal Music & Texts of the Anthems, Hymns & Solos Performed During the Funeral Service for Ronald Wilson Reagan at Washington National Cathedral" (PDF). Office of the Director of Music, Washington National Cathedral. June 10, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  41. ^ "Text of Danforth homily". USA Today. Associated Press. June 11, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
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  47. ^ "Reagan's children's eulogy remarks". USA Today, June 12, 2004.
  48. ^ Hutcheson, Ron; Chmielewski, Dawn C. (June 12, 2004). "President laid to rest in sunset services". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  49. ^ Freund, Charles Paul (June 10, 2004). "Jellybeans and Jitters". Reason. Retrieved June 12, 2008. 
  50. ^ a b c Baldwin, Craig. "Planning and Operations for Special Events in Washington, D.C. — WWII Memorial Dedication and the Funeral of President Ronald Reagan". United States Department of Transportation — Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  51. ^ "PAULA ZAHN NOW; The Other Victims of Alzheimer's Disease; Images of Ronald Reagan". CNN Transcripts. June 8, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2011. 
  52. ^ Murphy, Caryle; Horwitz, Sari (June 8, 2004). "Public Viewing to Last 34 Hours". The Washington Post. p. A1. 
  53. ^ Westley, Brian (June 8, 2004). "D.C. boosts security for funeral". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Associated Press. p. A11. 
  54. ^ a b "CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL: Washington Prepares For State Funeral of President Ronald Reagan". CNN Transcripts. June 9, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2011. We're going to be making a lot of historical we compare what was and what is we take measure of the man. In some ways, this era of terrorism that we're experiencing had its roots during the Reagan years. There was the Beirut bombing. There was Pan Am 103...As the late president returns to Washington, it's a different place, but in many ways, it has antecedence during his years in the White House as the world began to change 
  55. ^ Kaye, Ken (December 21, 2003). "An Act of War?–On the 15th Anniversary a Former Pilot Compares the Downing of Pan Am 103 to the Sept. 11, 2001 Attacks on America". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. p. 3A. Until Sept. 11, Flight 103 had been the deadliest act of terrorism against the United States, killing...189 Americans. 
  56. ^ Conery, Ben (December 21, 2008). "20 years later, pain of Lockerbie still fresh". The Washington Times. p. A3. When a bomb hidden aboard Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland,...189 Americans (were) killed, making it the largest terrorist attack against the U.S. until nearly 3,000 people were killed Sept. 11, 2001. 
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  59. ^ "CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN". June 14, 2004. Retrieved August 25, 2011. Last week was in an odd sort of way a welcomed respite, a trip back. The present returned today. It returned with news of an indictment, a suspect and an alleged plot against middle America. 
  60. ^ "CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN". June 11, 2004. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  61. ^ Goldstein, Richard (June 15, 2004). "Das Rongold: Reagan's funeral as a Wagnerian opera". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2005-05-10. 
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See also


Additionally, some media outlets were criticized for lionizing Reagan without paying equal attention to more controversial decisions made during his administration. Thomas Kunkel, dean of the University of Maryland, College Park's journalism college, wrote in A magazine that the coverage "would have you believe that Reagan was a cross between Abe Lincoln and Mother Teresa, with an overlay of Mister Rogers."[62] Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post's media columnist, said Reagan was "a far more controversial figure in his time than the largely gushing obits on television would suggest."[63] The Nation ran a series of articles about the many controversies of his presidency.

Reagan's obituaries also included a few criticisms. Richard Goldstein of The Village Voice criticized the funeral for its careful orchestration, writing, "Because the networks had so long to plan for this production... this was the most precisely mounted news event in modern times. Each gesture was minutely choreographed, every tear strategically placed."[61]

The majority of media coverage of the event was deferential. Most major news organizations broadcast the various events live multiple times; during the week, the cable channel C-SPAN broadcast uninterrupted coverage of the funeral ceremonies. A few complained, however, that the television coverage was excessive and preempted coverage of other events. CBS News anchor Dan Rather was quoted as saying: "Even though everybody is respectful and wants to pay homage to the president, life does go on. There is other news, like the reality of Iraq. It got very short shrift this weekend."[58] Throughout the week, media experts reported that the national mourning, televised nearly non-stop on many television networks, provided Americans welcome respite from unhappy reports that American troops were being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving them a sense of good news they had been desperate for since the September 11 attacks.[59][60]

The majority of those commemorating Reagan were supporters of his, although not all held the 40th president in high regard. In one noted example, Paul Mays, a retired engineer who never thought much of Reagan's politics, witnessed the motorcade leave the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base; he commented "This is history".[57] Frank Dubois, an American University professor, also was there for the motorcade, though of the laudatory praise he remarked, "[Reagan] hurt the environment; there was double-digit inflation. I just don't get it."[57]

Public and media comments

During the services, the news media made note that the security measures also made evident that the era of terrorism that the world was experiencing had its roots during the Reagan years.[54] The worst act of terrorism against the United States prior to 9/11, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 189 Americans, happened during the Reagan years.[54][55][56]


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