Sunday, June 06, 2004

STATE FUNERAL: Honoring Reagan, an Update; Cabbie Learns of Ex-President's Death

In all of the Saturday evening news coverage of the immediate news of former President Reagan's death, it was difficult avoiding vignettes of Reagan playing a key role in the destruction of the Soviet Union and his famous declaration that Moscow and its satellite states were "the evil empire."

Of course, the Soviet Union is no more, but its heir, post-Cold War Russia, was respecting the death of Reagan as well this weekend. As I passed by the Russian Embassy on Mount Alto near the National Cathedral late Saturday, the Russian tricolor had been set at half staff.

The Washington Post reports Sunday that Reagan's funeral will model Lyndon Johnson's.

From the Post's Elizabeth Williamson and Spencer S. Hsu:
Initial plans call for Reagan's body to lie in state for a day at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. His body then will be flown to Andrews Air Force Base, most likely Tuesday or Wednesday, arriving at 5 p.m.

The body will be driven in a motorcade directly to the U.S. Capitol for a viewing for national and international leaders. It will then lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for about 24 hours. The public will be allowed to enter through the West Front Terrace, and crowds can assemble at Third Street.

Following the official observance at the Capitol, there will be an official funeral service at the National Cathedral, perhaps Thursday.

One Cabbie Shocked by News. It is always interesting to deliver big national news to someone who has been out of touch all day. I was chatting with my cab driver, who had Jamaican knit cap and dreads, as he was taking me south down Wisconsin Avenue when I was on my way to meet a friend for drinks late Saturday. I informed the cabbie of Reagan's death, since the driver had been listening to soft jazz all afternoon, he said.

"Jesus Christ, you don't say! ... Wow, Ronnie's dead. Shit man, he's dead? ... Well, he waaaaas an old mon, wasn't he now, mon?"

The cabbie's mind immediately shifted to the traffic problems Reagan's funeral will cause mid-week. He was already considering taking those days off work.


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