Ronald Reagan was remembered with jelly beans, flowers and American flags on Sunday at memorials in his hometown and outside the mortuary where the former president’s body lay.
“Thank you for changing the world,” said a handwritten note among the tokens of remembrance left in Santa Monica for the nation’s 40th president, who was 93 when he died of pneumonia, as a complication of Alzheimer’s, at his Bel Air home on Saturday.
Plans for a state funeral in Washington, D.C., and entombment at Reagan’s presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., were announced by a family spokesperson.
Reagan's body will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday at the Reagan library. From Wednesday evening through Thursday, the casket will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The funeral will be Friday at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Nancy Reagan remembers her husband
In a piece written for Time magazine before Reagan’s death, Nancy Reagan remembered her husband as “a man of strong principles and integrity” who felt his greatest accomplishment was finding a safe end to the Cold War.
“I think they broke the mold when they made Ronnie,” she wrote in the article appearing Monday. “He had absolutely no ego, and he was very comfortable in his own skin; therefore, he didn’t feel he ever had to prove anything to anyone.”
President Bush, in France to commemorate D-Day, recalled that 20 years earlier Reagan had come to Normandy on the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion.
“He was a courageous leader himself and a gallant leader in the cause of freedom, and today we honor the memory of Ronald Reagan,” Bush said.
'I just think of him as being an American'
At Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill., mourners left flowers, flags and packets of Jelly Belly jelly beans — his favorite — at the feet of a life-sized statue of Reagan in the front yard.
Ken Dunwoody, 82, who grew up outside Dixon, said the Republican icon transcends partisan politics. “I just think of him as being an American,” Dunwoody said. “I wish we all could get back to that.”
At Bel Air Presbyterian Church, which Reagan attended during and after his presidency, worshipper Rose McNally recalled how members of the congregation would react to his arrival.
“As soon as he’d start up the ramp, people would pick up a piece of paper, any piece of paper, to get him to sign,” she said. “He was a great man.”
The Rev. Mark Brewer opened Sunday’s first service with a remembrance, saying, “As a nation, we grieve this week.”
“He brought with him not only a love for the nation but also a sense of humor,” Brewer told about 500 people. He lauded Reagan’s leadership in the Cold War, calling it the “third great war” of the century.
Praise from Carter, Gorbachev
Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday that the death of Reagan, who defeated him in the 1980 presidential election, was “a sad day for our country.”
“He presented some very concise, very clear messages that appealed to the American people. I think throughout his term in office he was very worthy of the moniker that was put on him as the ’Great Communicator.”’
“I probably know as well as anybody what a formidable communicator and campaigner that President Reagan was,” Carter said before teaching Sunday school in his hometown of Plains, Ga. “It was because of him that I was retired from my last job.”
Reagan’s “Star Wars” program drew the Soviet Union into an unaffordable arms race, and his 1987 declaration to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Berlin Wall — “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” — was the ultimate challenge of the Cold War.
Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reforming his nation and easing world tension, called Reagan a “true leader, a man of his word and an optimist.”
Within two years after Gorbachev’s ascent to power in 1985, the two leaders signed a treaty eliminating the entire class of medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles.
“I don’t know whether we would have been able to agree and to insist on the implementation of our agreements with a different person at the helm of American government,” Gorbachev said in op-ed piece in Monday’s New York Times.
“True, Reagan was a man of the right. But, while adhering to his convictions, with which one could agree or disagree, he was not dogmatic; he was looking for negotiations and cooperation.”
Reagan died at 1 p.m. Saturday and his body was taken to a Santa Monica funeral home. A shrine that sprouted outside grew to include a cowboy hat, personal letters, flags, candles and jelly beans.
Hand-written cardboard signs read: “Because of you, we are proud Americans,” “God bless you, Ron, and God bless America” and “Good night, Mr. President.”
TRIBUTES TO A FORMER PRESIDENT
- Former President George H.W. Bush: “We had been political opponents and became close friends. Barbara and I mourn the loss of a great president and for us a great friend,” Bush said. “He could take a stand ... and do it without creating bitterness or creating enmity on the part of other people.”