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Tributes Paid to Reagan Legacy

A week of memorials on both coasts begins today at the former president's library. A state funeral will be held Friday in Washington.

June 07, 2004|Richard Fausset, Erika Hayasaki and Jia-Rui Chong | Times Staff Writers

As the family of former President Ronald Reagan remained in seclusion Sunday, officials announced a week of memorial events on both coasts that will include an overnight viewing at Reagan's library near Simi Valley, and the first presidential state funeral in Washington in more than 30 years.

The family was trying to rest for the "long six days ahead of them," Joanne Drake, Reagan's chief of staff, said at a press conference at the Santa Monica mortuary where Reagan's body lay Sunday.

Reagan died Saturday at his Bel-Air home at 93. Drake said Nancy Reagan was grieving, though she was grateful for the prayers, flowers and impromptu memorials that appeared in the nation's capital, at her husband's boyhood home in Illinois, and outside the Santa Monica mortuary, where mourners left bags of Reagan's beloved jellybeans.

In the last decade of his life Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's disease and retreated from public life. His wife had said as recently as last month that his health was getting worse.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 10, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Funeral home name -- Articles Sunday through Tuesday in Section A about memorial events for Ronald Reagan referred to the Kingsley & Gates, Moller & Murphy Funeral Home. It is the Gates Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Home.

"I can tell you most certainly that while it is an extremely sad time for Mrs. Reagan, there is definitely a sense of relief that he is no longer suffering, and that he has gone to a better place," Drake said.

The White House said that on Friday, the day of Reagan's funeral, all government departments would be closed with the exception of those deemed essential for national security, defense "or other essential public business." Friday has also been designated as a national day of mourning.

In France, President Bush paid tribute to Reagan in remarks commemorating the 60th anniversary of the D-day invasion.

"Twenty summers ago, another American president came here to Normandy to pay tribute to the men of D-day," Bush said. "He was a courageous man himself and a gallant leader in the cause of freedom."

Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, suspended all campaign activities until after Reagan's burial Friday. Two fundraising concerts that were to be held in Los Angeles and New York were postponed.

In Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president, recalled how he and Reagan moved from an adversarial relationship -- as the heads of the two dominant nuclear superpowers -- to one of cooperation as they agreed to reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons.

Gorbachev recalled that he and Reagan "were destined to meet in the most difficult years of the 20th century, when we felt on both sides that we faced the threat of nuclear war."

"I take the death of Ronald Reagan very hard," he said.

Reagan's family members spent the weekend taking calls from famous well-wishers, including President Bush; Luci and Lady Bird Johnson, the daughter and widow of former President Johnson; former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Secretary of State Colin Powell; evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth; actor Charlton Heston and senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, Drake said

Reagan began making his own funeral plans two decades ago. It was his wish to be memorialized in both Washington and California, where he became a movie star and later launched his political career, serving two terms as governor. He picked his own burial site on the west lawn of the presidential library.

Reagan also said he wanted the public to take part in his memorial services. From noon today until 6 p.m. Tuesday, Reagan will lie in repose in the lobby of the mission-style library for closed-casket visitation through the night, after a motorcade carries his body from Santa Monica. Moorpark College, which is near the library, will cancel classes for two days to provide parking for thousands of expected mourners. No parking will be allowed at the library itself. Shuttle buses will run from the campus starting at 11 a.m. today.

Military personnel from each branch of the armed forces will guard the body of the former commander-in-chief, whom some credit with helping bring the Cold War to a peaceful end. Every card and flower brought by visitors will be photographed and documented in a book that will be given to the family, said Barbara Owens, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

Planning and security for the California events alone will require the help of 450 military personnel and hundreds of local police. The motorcade from Santa Monica to the library will cover approximately 45 miles. No details about the route or possible street closures had been released by Sunday evening.

On Wednesday morning, Nancy Reagan and her family will arrive at the library to escort Reagan's body to the East Coast.

After a private departure ceremony, a motorcade will take them to the Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu. From there, they will fly to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Reagan's body will be carried in a procession to the U.S. Capitol, the last few blocks by horse-drawn carriage. He will lie in the rotunda, where visitors can pay their respects from Wednesday through Friday morning.

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