Thousands Pay Tribute to President Reagan

Thousands Pay Tribute to President Reagan
Jeff Chiu/AP

06/09/2004 AT 08:00 AM EDT

Some 100,000 mourners – including current Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry – reverentially filed past the flag-draped casket of former President Ronald Reagan at his hilltop library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Tuesday.

So enormous was the turnout that hours for viewing had to be extended, and, according to reports, the Ronald Reagan Freeway, which traverses the Simi Valley, was backed up with traffic for hours.

The 40th President, 93, died at his California home Saturday after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Members of his family were at his bedside, and his last look was said to be at his wife of 52 years, Nancy.

On Wednesday, the attention will shift to Washington, D.C., with a funeral set for Friday, which President George W. Bush has designated as a national day of mourning. The current President will be speaking at the service.

On Wednesday morning's Today show, current first lady Laura Bush said she has yet to speak to Nancy Reagan but "I've been thinking about her all week." She added that she hoped to speak to Mrs. Reagan on Wednesday evening.

She also said President Bush, in his eulogy Friday, will likely speak of Reagan's love of America and how Americans loved him.

According to the Washington Post, the former Commander in Chief's body will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 5 p.m. Wednesday. At 6 p.m., the coffin will be transferred from a hearse to a horse-drawn caisson, which will lead a procession to the U.S. Capitol.

At 7, the Capitol Rotunda will serve as the setting for a state funeral ceremony. At 9, the former President will lie in state with an honor guard. The public will be permitted to view the casket for the next 34 hours.

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