I went this morning. It was only about a 3.5 hour wait in line.
Everybody was quite subdued and respectful, well before the Rotunda, where silence was strictly enforced. Conversations were very low. People were very polite. It was remarkable to see, especially in Washington, which can be a loud, rude city at times.
There was a little bit of a delay when somebody abandoned a backpack, and a hazardous-materials squad had to be called out to check the thing out. It turned out to be nothing, and then the owner showed up. Who doesn’t know that this is a no-no, in this day and age? Twenty minute delay.
The crowd was a typical middle American bunch. They had, for the most part, dressed for the warm weather, although most people seemed to have tried to dress nicely. I’m somewhat old fashioned in this regard, so I was wearing a suit, as were lots of other men. Lots of women were in dresses appropriate for a funeral as well.
Some folks stood out from the crowd. There were a lot of servicemen and women in full uniform present. I also saw a large, uniformed Boy Scout troop. I saw four nuns in full habits, a group of about twenty Amish or Old Order Mennonite, and an American Indian in full ceremonial headdress.
A lot of parents brought their kids, many in strollers. Amazingly, none of the kids within earshot were complaining loudly.
Inside the Rotunda, it’s pretty much as it appears on TV. The flag draped casket is flanked by an honor guard that doesn’t move a muscle. They represent all four beanches of the service, and I noticed that the sailor was a young woman, nonrated E-3 (I used to be a sailor myself). The drill rifles were all model 1903 Springfields, very shiny.
All visitors received a card on departing. This may be how they’re keeping an accurate count of visitors. The card is a lovely printed thing with an American eagle seal at the top, representing the Presidential seal.
The Honorable Ronald Wilson Reagan
February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004
United States of America
In Final Tribute from a Grateful Nation
The Lying in State of President Reagan
The Rotunda, United States Capitol
June 9, 10, and 11, 2004
Afterward visitors could sign, if they chose, condolence books. These will be given to Mrs. Reagan afterward and put on display at the library.