Reagan Presidential Library the Focus of Mourning and Burial Ceremonies
Reagan Presidential Library the Focus of Mourning and Burial CeremoniesAs former President Ronald Reagan’s state funeral took place in Washington’s National Cathedral the morning of June 11, staffers at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, were busy cleaning up after more than 106,000 mourners visited the grounds to pay their respects and view the Reagan casket over the previous two days. The library also had to prepare for a 90-minute sunset service for 600 or 700 friends, family, and dignitaries scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. on the western lawn, next to the crypt where the 40th president will be entombed shortly afterwards.
“As soon as the president and Mrs. Reagan left, they started,” Library Executive Director R. Duke Blackwood said in the June 10 Riverside Press-Enterprise. “We’re preparing the outdoor portions because we are going to have a billion people watching on Friday.”
After Sgt. Maj. Woodrow English, the Army’s master bugler, plays “Taps” at the Friday evening ceremony, he plans to donate the bugle—which has been used at the funerals of John F. Kennedy and three other presidents—to the Reagan family, which has opted to give it to the library, the Long Island (N.Y.) Newsday reported June 11.
The library received unprecedented media attention the week after Reagan passed away June 5. Built for about $10 million on land donated by a Reagan supporter, the library is the largest facility of 11 presidential libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Chicago Tribune noted June 11 that the building will expand in 2005 from 153,000 to 265,000 square feet with the addition of a three-story structure to house the Air Force One jet that served seven presidents from Nixon to George W. Bush. A 25,000-square-foot Presidential Learning Center with an auditorium, restaurant, and exhibit gallery is scheduled to open in July.
The Reagan Library is also one of the most expensive presidential libraries to operate, costing $3.86 million in 2003, second only to the Kennedy Library’s $4.7-million budget. “It’s fair to say that the Congress is constantly reevaluating the public-private partnership that has evolved over the years,” National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper told the Tribune. “And I think the libraries are one of the best examples of how the public-private partnership can work.”
Posted June 11, 2004.