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The Gipper's Final Flight
TIME.COM ^ | 6-13-04 | Hugh Sidey

Posted on 06/13/2004 7:31:33 AM PDT by treeclimber

The sinking California sun turned soft red and a breeze ruffled the hillside when Ronald Reagan was laid to rest on the magnificent stage created for his last bow. As the final taps floated out over the shimmering Pacific Ocean, Nancy Reagan held the flag from his casket close to her. She was worn but still resolute from the long week of farewell.

His body had ridden the dark caisson up to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, and the riderless horse, with Reagan's boots turned backward in the stirrups, had walked behind it. Tens of thousands of people queued up there to give their salutes and mumbled little tributes to this man they thought of as a neighbor. The Washington National Cathedral was filled with the world's power fraternity, including President George W. Bush and all the living former Presidents—Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Jerry Ford—and some who had tried but failed—Al Gore, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale. After the service, Reagan's casket was clamped to the floor in the back of a plane that is used as Air Force One, and he began his journey home with family, old friends and staff.

The travelers came back to the casket alone or in clusters to stand for a moment beside the man they had followed and worshipped. They reached out to touch the flag, and they wept, but they were not broken people. More often than not they whispered their undimmed gratitude. "Thank God I knew him. He changed my life."

Merv Griffin, one of the honorary pallbearers, beamed his persistent humor at former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, telling how he had gone to London's Berkeley Square in search of the nightingales made famous in a song, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. "But I only found pigeons," he said, chuckling. The very game Thatcher had arrived on board with the formidable hat she wore in Washington stowed in a sturdy box where it would remain for the rest of this journey of tribute, which she insisted on making despite a series of small strokes that had restricted her public life. An examination of the guest book from Blair House, where Nancy stayed last week, showed that Thatcher's touch for brevity and devotion was still intact, though she did not have the strength to talk in the cathedral and had them play her recorded speech. "To Ronnie," she wrote. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Nancy spent some of her time watching a replay of the cathedral service on a giant TV screen and reading letters of condolence from famous friends like Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth. At one point Nancy and the children, filled with their sense of loss but not muted by it, gathered around the casket and seemed to reflect Reagan's own advice to look to the future. They talked of son Ron's television career and Patti's writing.

The streaking 747 was so far ahead of schedule that a swing over Tampico, Ill., Reagan's birthplace, was wedged into the flight plan. The pilot dipped the plane's wings, and Nancy called out, "Quick, get Ron and Patti to take a look." They gazed silently out the windows. The tiny cluster of buildings on a land-sea of vivid green summer corn quickly slid beyond view. "A lot of corn," said Nancy. Mike Deaver, who had served Reagan so loyally, wore the cuff links that he had given Reagan on his 75th birthday. Nancy had recently returned them. Deaver wore them for the first time on this flight. "I don't think I will wear them again," he said quietly.

The riding boots used in the procession were being taken back home. The travelers reverently hefted them, explored the soles. The boots were made by the Dehner Co., of Omaha, and their style was explained by young Ron. "These are English riding boots. Dad also used an English saddle, which pushed him forward, and he clamped the horse between his legs." The boots had been washed but expressly not polished for their journey through Washington streets. Spots of wear showed on the leather, which was buckled around the rider's legs.

So many old Reagan stories were told, so many laughs remembered, that the flight seemed far too short. The plane eased down into Simi Valley in a salute to the thousands waiting beside the highways to see Reagan come home. Flashes from the cameras of the people clustered below could be seen from the plane, a ritual of reaching out to one of their own who had climbed to the world stage and become a great star beyond the imaginations of even these California dreamers.


TOPICS: Extended News; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: california; finalflight; gipper; ronaldreagan; sidey
We will miss him. But our country & the world are better places because he was here.
1 posted on 06/13/2004 7:31:33 AM PDT by treeclimber
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To: treeclimber

That was very, very nice. Thanks for posting it, and I will crosslink it here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1148235/posts
Ronald Reagan Passes- some links...
various FR links | 06-05-04 | The Heavy Equipment Guy


2 posted on 06/13/2004 7:45:56 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the Trackball into the Sunset...)
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To: treeclimber
I would swear that the way the weather was on that day was very symbolic.

First the light rain falling in Washington DC for the state funeral. That was the Lord weeping as one of his lambs was departing from the flock.

However, in the evening, we all saw the golden Gates of Heaven open with the beautiful sunset as the Lord happily welcomed another angel into Paradise above.

3 posted on 06/13/2004 8:00:42 AM PDT by xrp
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To: treeclimber

Yes, thanks for posting.

The "TIME" writer failed to note that Lady Thatcher's "brevity" is from Matthew 25:21.


4 posted on 06/13/2004 8:03:12 AM PDT by Let's Roll (Kerry is a self-confessed unindicted war criminal or ... a traitor to his country in a time of war)
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To: treeclimber

BTTT


5 posted on 06/13/2004 8:06:13 AM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: xrp

Beautiful...well framed. Thanks....


6 posted on 06/13/2004 8:26:39 AM PDT by treeclimber ("We will hunt the terrorists in every dark corner of the earth. We will be relentless." GWB)
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To: Let's Roll

The "TIME" writer failed to note that Lady Thatcher's "brevity" is from Matthew 25:21.


Thats because he probably didnt know. I have read that biblical passage on the stained glass of my church my entire life.


7 posted on 06/13/2004 8:28:42 AM PDT by treeclimber ("We will hunt the terrorists in every dark corner of the earth. We will be relentless." GWB)
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To: PeaceBeWithYou; Mo1

Grab a kleenex before you read this.


8 posted on 06/13/2004 8:35:39 AM PDT by sweetliberty ("Good-night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.")
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To: xrp
"First the light rain falling in Washington DC for the state funeral. That was the Lord weeping as one of his lambs was departing from the flock.

However, in the evening, we all saw the golden Gates of Heaven open with the beautiful sunset as the Lord happily welcomed another angel into Paradise above."

What a beautiful thought. You should put it here.

9 posted on 06/13/2004 8:39:26 AM PDT by sweetliberty ("Good-night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.")
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To: treeclimber
One thing I found especially sad about this article, and in fact, most of the week...was the way that Michael Reagan was almost ignored by the rest of the family. Yet, he handled it all very gracefully....at the graveside, he went back when his wife and children were saying their final goodbyes and I noticed that he was the one to comfort Ron's wife. Just random observations, I guess.
10 posted on 06/13/2004 8:51:50 AM PDT by TnMomofTwo (Hypocrisy thy name is Liberal....)
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To: treeclimber
The sinking California sun turned soft red and a breeze ruffled the hillside when Ronald Reagan was laid to rest on the magnificent stage created for his last bow.

I don't think the "creators" the writer has in mind were the stagehands who built the platform at the library. He leaves room to imagine he is referring the the Creator of the golden western landscape Reagan loved.

I've heard Hugh Sidey interviewed many times. He revered President and Mrs. Reagan. I have no doubt he knew the source of Mrs. Thatcher's sentiment.

11 posted on 06/13/2004 9:41:26 AM PDT by Timeout ("We are a nation that has a government - not the other way around." Ronald Reagan, first inaugural)
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To: treeclimber
He fought the left and won. His victory over our Democrats gave Freedom for hundreds of millions of slaves. Thank God For Ronald Reagan & George W Bush.

Pray for W and Saint Nancy

12 posted on 06/13/2004 9:48:54 AM PDT by bray (Let's win one more for the Gipper!!!!)
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To: TnMomofTwo

I noticed the same things...God bless him...


13 posted on 06/13/2004 10:24:57 AM PDT by BlessedAmerican (Pray for our President and those who are fighting to preserve our freedom!)
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To: sweetliberty

And whatever you do, don't listen to the music from the funeral while reading it.

I am so glad they were able to see the camera flashes from the plane. I hope they all know how much we loved him.


14 posted on 06/13/2004 2:18:46 PM PDT by lawgirl (God to womankind: "Here's Cary Grant. Now don't tell me I never gave you anything.")
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To: xrp

My thoughts as well. The only thing I would have done differently is to send the casket back on a slow moving train and dominate the news for another week, just to drive the Liberals crazy. I understand Nancy's stamina is limited and don't blame her for doing things the way she did-- it was a wonderful week of rekindled memories of, easily, the best president in the last century . . . and maybe longer. I'd rank Ronnie behind only Washington and Jefferson, but would have a hard time deciding whether to put him or Lincoln in third.


15 posted on 06/13/2004 6:25:58 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (crime would drop like a sprung trapdoor if we brought back good old-fashioned hangings)
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To: Vigilanteman
You'd rate Lincoln highly? About the only good thing Lincoln did was end slavery (in the Confederate States only, no doubt) which would have eventually happened anyway.

Take another look at Lincoln and you'll see all the makings of a tyrant, determined to keep his empire together at all costs.

16 posted on 06/13/2004 6:36:49 PM PDT by xrp
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To: xrp
Pbbt! Take the anti-Lincoln stuff elsewhere.

Lincoln is in his grave, he saved the Union and freed the slaves. For that he is revered, regardless of personal opinions on his actions during the war.

And it is absolutely out of place to come on this thread and trash Lincoln. President Reagan would not have agreed.

17 posted on 06/13/2004 6:43:29 PM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: xrp
Take another look at Lincoln and you'll see all the makings of a tyrant, determined to keep his empire together at all costs.

LOL. Right.

18 posted on 06/13/2004 6:44:28 PM PDT by Petronski (Ronald Reagan: 1015 electoral votes.)
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To: Petronski

In reading this article, I was struck how once again Mike Reagan isn't mentioned. I'm suspicious that they intentionally "dis" him since he is a Christian conservative.


19 posted on 06/13/2004 6:49:07 PM PDT by ruthles
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To: ruthles; All

Ronald Reagan interview on CNN right now,

Ronnie talking from Jan 1990

excellent


20 posted on 06/13/2004 6:51:44 PM PDT by longtermmemmory
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To: Let's Roll
The "TIME" writer failed to note that Lady Thatcher's "brevity" is
from Matthew 25:21.


Probably not the writer's favorite Old Testament book.
(end sarcasm)
21 posted on 06/13/2004 6:53:17 PM PDT by VOA
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To: treeclimber

Did anyone catch PBS today. All day they aired the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE show about REAGAN. IT was in a couple of parts. I Tivo'd it.


22 posted on 06/13/2004 6:54:20 PM PDT by Hildy ( If you don't stand up for what's RIGHT, you'll settle for what's LEFT.)
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To: Hildy

Reagan interview with larry king from 1990 on now final segment now.


23 posted on 06/13/2004 6:56:12 PM PDT by longtermmemmory
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To: Timeout
I've heard Hugh Sidey interviewed many times. He revered President and Mrs. Reagan.
I have no doubt he knew the source of Mrs. Thatcher's sentiment.


Looks like I may have to take a serving of crow (with copious BBQ sauce).
(see my snippy, shoot-from-the-hip post #21)

I didn't notice the writer was Hugh Sidey. I am unaware of his previous
take on the Reagans, but I do remember that he wrote a very nice introduction to
one of the Time-Life commenmorative magazines on WWII.

Just based on that one bit of writing, I tend to think your contention is correct.
24 posted on 06/13/2004 6:57:52 PM PDT by VOA
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To: TnMomofTwo

I noticed that Ron was mostly away from the rest of the family too. Strange isn't it?


25 posted on 06/13/2004 6:59:19 PM PDT by ladyinred (RIP Governor/President Reagan, ride peacefully into that sunset.)
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To: VOA

snicker


26 posted on 06/13/2004 9:50:47 PM PDT by Let's Roll (Kerry is a self-confessed unindicted war criminal or ... a traitor to his country in a time of war)
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To: treeclimber

I saw some footage today of that last flight across the continent back to California, particularly when the wings were 'dipped' over the town in Illinois. I was again touched by Nancy's stength: While I previously imagined maybe she would have 2-3 hours of rest on the flight before the burial after all she had been through, there she was greeting people on the plane, sharing memories, and accepting condolences until the last moment. God bless her strength. I pray tonight for her complete rest and the ability to regain her stength after all she has endured this week.


27 posted on 06/13/2004 10:31:49 PM PDT by ZOTnot (I'll take the side of Israel. Woe to its enemies.)
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