10 Jun 2004 Paying Respects to Ronald Reagan: Is It Worth Waiting Eight Hours in the Heat? Absolutely
Like tens of thousands of other Americans, staff members of the National Center for Public Policy Research and members of the black conservative leadership group Project 21 have been paying their respects to former President Ronald Reagan. So that their experiences might be shared by other Americans who have not been able to participate personally in remembrance events, a description of their experiences observing the state funeral procession and paying respects in the Capitol Rotunda have been posted on the National Center’s blog at http://www.conservativeblog.org.
At 1 am, five-and-a-half hours after we entered the line and eight hours after we left to meet the caisson, we were finally on our way home. Eight hours of standing in heat that caused some to pass out. Eight hours to walk past a flag-draped coffin for just a few minutes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I never met the man, but Ronald Reagan is one of the most important people in my life. My first work in politics was as a high school volunteer in his re-election campaign. Admiration of his policies and style of governing made me want to study political science in college. Preserving his legacy is why I came to Washington. It was the same for my wife. Not only am I thankful to him for what he did to strengthen our nation and bring freedom to the world, but also for playing a role in introducing me to my wife.
It’s not very easy for four-year-old children to understand that a giant has left us, but as Ronald Reagan bequeathed to our children and millions of others a safer, more prosperous world, he deserved what thank you they could give him. In this case, it was by hanging around a hot sidewalk at Constitution and Louisiana Avenues… And, I hope, by beginning to get a little germ of understanding that there is such a thing as a United States of America; that good men and women protect it, and great men and women protect it especially well… We were still among the crowds when we heard the cannons begin the 21-gun salute. People around us stopped, and turned the face the Capitol. We couldn’t see if through the trees, but the sound was loud and clear. We counted, silently. No one moved until it was over… We’d both expected the sight of the caisson to be the most moving part for us. We found that it hadn’t been. Instead, that moment came while we were watching the missing man formation. The jets flew by, wave after wave. Then, in the last wave, one jet separated, and flew up and away. The cloud cover was low. As we watched, the jet vanished into the sky.
The National Center also published in January a refutation of allegations that Reagan’s 1980s were at “Decade of Greed,” available at Reaganomics: Were the 1980s the Decade of Greed?, and also has posted online a collection of the text of various Reagan speeches at its Archive of Historical Documents.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan Capitol Hill think-tank established in 1982.