Friday, June 11, 2004

National Day of Mourning

some of you may be sick of it, but since i'm not--i'm going to post this in honor of the man. he has affected my life in so many ways, and he will always be remembered... * * * * America Bids an Emotional Farewell to Reagan By Alan Elsner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America bade farewell to Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) on Friday in a majestic state funeral at Washington's National Cathedral where past and present world leaders lauded the former president as a prophet of freedom and moral victor of the Cold War. "Ronald Reagan believed ... in the courage and triumph of free men and we believe it all the more because we saw that courage in him," said President Bush (news - web sites), delivering a eulogy to his predecessor. "As Ronald Wilson Reagan goes his way, we are left with the joyful hope he shared," he said. The ceremony capped six days of mourning and nostalgic remembrance for the 40th president of the United States, who died last Saturday at age 93 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites). "He won the Cold War, not only without firing a shot but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends," former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said of her close ally and friend. Celebrated by supporters as a champion of freedom and free enterprise, Reagan also provoked furious opposition during his 1981-1989 presidency. Critics accused him of building up massive budget deficits, cutting programs for the poor and supporting right-wing hard-liners in Central America. The one-time Hollywood movie star, known to millions as "the Gipper" after his favorite film role, had himself said goodbye to the American people in a moving letter revealing his illness in 1994 and had since lived in seclusion, cared for by his wife, Nancy. "It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell, yet it is still very sad and hard to let him go," Bush said. Veterans of the Cold War struggle against communism that Reagan helped end were prominent at the funeral, attended by 25 current heads of state or government, 14 foreign ministers and 11 former heads of state. Thatcher was present in the congregation but her message was delivered on videotape since her health has become too fragile for public speaking. ELEGANCE AND EASE Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney recalled Reagan's elegance and ease. "No one could more eloquently summon his nation to high purpose," he said. All four living former U.S. presidents -- Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Bill Clinton (news - web sites) -- filed into the massive faux Gothic structure on a hill over Washington, which took 83 years to build and was only completed in 1990. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union who crossed swords with Reagan at memorable summits in the 1980s and then allowed the Cold War to end peacefully months after Reagan left office in 1989, represented Russia. Former President Bush, his voice breaking with emotion, said Reagan and Gorbachev had combined to end the Cold War. Referring to the best-known line in Reagan's best-known film, he said, "The Gipper and Mikhail Gorbachev won one for the world." A bell tolled and rain fell as the hearse bearing Reagan's body arrived at the cathedral from Capitol Hill, where it had lain in state for two days while tens of thousands of people filed past. Onlookers lined the four-mile route from the Capitol to the Cathedral standing several rows deep. Police had to prevent the crowd spilling into the streets. After the funeral, Reagan's body was to be flown back to California for a private sunset burial attended by family and special guests on the grounds of his presidential library just north of Los Angeles. Government departments, the New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites) and many businesses were closed as Americans paused to pay tribute. Lech Walesa, the one-time Polish shipyard electrician who led the Solidarity labor movement and later became president of a post-communist Poland, also attended. In a Wall Street Journal article, Walesa said Poles owed Reagan their freedom. He hailed the former president as a western cowboy who fought against evil. Apart from his Cold War record, proponents credit Reagan with restoring U.S. confidence, battling inflation, cutting taxes and presiding over an economic boom. He was, however, also blamed for lax control over his administration that led to the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. But opponents were frustrated that scandals did not seem to stick to Reagan and dubbed him the "Teflon president." Since his death, the U.S. media has provided blanket coverage and glowing assessments of Reagan's legacy and sunny personality. Most agree that he will go down in history as one of the most significant U.S. presidents of the 20th century. There is little doubt that Reagan changed the U.S. political landscape, moving the country to the right while paving the way for Republican dominance of Congress. * * * * * as a sign of respect, this will be my only post for today (and the weekend). he was, in my opinion a great man, and a great in peace. now, a moment of silence.

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