America mourns President Reagan

A mourning America began preparations for the country's first presidential state funeral in more than 30 years yesterday, to honour Ronald Reagan, the Republican president known to his country as the Gipper.

Flags across the country were at half mast as the body of the 40th president lay in a morgue near his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, before being taken today to lie in state at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley. It will then be flown to Washington, where Mr Reagan will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda for two days. The state funeral will be held at Washington National Cathedral on Friday, after which the former president will make his final journey back to California.

As Mr Reagan and his family had wished, he will be buried at a private ceremony at sunset the same evening, in the grounds of the library.

The funeral is likely to be attended by many of the world's leaders, some of whom will already be in the United States, attending the G8 summit at Sea Island, Georgia.

The former Hollywood actor and California governor, who occupied the White House from 1981 to 1989, died at home on Saturday, surrounded by his family. At 93 he had lived longer than any president in US history.

He had spent the past decade in a forlorn battle with Alzheimer's disease. "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him," Nancy, his wife of 52 years, said just a month before the end.

Tributes flowed in from around the world. Margaret Thatcher, his ally, friend and fellow icon for conservatives, called him "a truly great American hero". Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader whose five summits with Mr Reagan between 1985 and 1988 produced deep nuclear arms cuts and hastened the end of the Cold War, praised the former president as "a great leader", who had helped to launch a new era in relations between the superpowers.

About the only critical comment came from the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Though his country has mended some fences with the US, Col Gaddafi said he regretted Mr Reagan had not been tried for war crimes in the 1986 air attacks on Tripoli, in which dozens died. They were in retaliation for a bombing of a Berlin nightclub, allegedly carried out by Libya, in which two US soldiers died.

Mr Reagan's body was brought to the morgue in a coffin draped with the US flag. A fountain in front of the building quickly became an unofficial shrine. Soldiers kept watch from the roof of a building across the street.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Pre-Press / Mac Operator / Artworker - Digital & Litho Print

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: With year on year growth and a reputation for ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Live Virtual Training / Events

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003