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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
THE STATE FUNERAL OF RONALD REAGAN
Aired June 11, 2004 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of the state funeral services of President Ronald Reagan. Reporting from Washington, Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for joining us; the next stage in this state funeral of the 40th president of the United States, about to begin here in the nation's capital.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Through the coming hours, we're going to watch as a nation bids its farewell to the 40th president. You're looking at a live picture now of the sentries guarding the casket of Ronald Reagan. At one point, it was estimated at least a quarter of a million people might wind through here. About 104,000 did pay their respects to the president. At a certain point, we will see this casket transferred to a hearse, and it will slowly make its way over to the Washington National Cathedral, where the president will be eulogized.
BLITZER: And the Washington National Cathedral is the scene where there have been so many, so many memorable moments in the nation's history. It's about a four and a half mile drive from Capitol Hill over to Northwest Washington where the National Cathedral is located. This is the National Cathedral, the second largest cathedral in the United States.
The state funeral, what exactly is a state funeral. It's an event that occurs very rarely in U.S. history. The last time this has occurred, more than 30 years ago, when Lyndon Baines Johnson was accorded the result -- all the honors of a state funeral.
Jeff Greenfield is watching all of this with us as well.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Wolf, this is the end of this tradition. The end of the ceremony. The state funeral actually encompasses the lying in state in the rotunda and the final services. It's also an event that uniquely in a way connects past and present and future. When Abe Lincoln's funeral train passed through New York City, one of the people who witnessed was 6-year-old Theodore Roosevelt. And as it passed through Buffalo, one of the people who witnessed it was future President Grover Cleveland.
And I think you can say it's a fair bet that somewhere out there, there is a young child who will be witnessing this event today, who may some day wind up as president of the United States. And one of his or her memories will be the state funeral of Ronald Reagan. ZAHN: We're just beginning to see the cathedral fill up. We're told that Nancy Reagan will have some thousand friends in attendance, and some 3,000 dignitaries will also join in watching the service. Among those who will be eulogizing former President Ronald Reagan: the current president of the United States, George W. Bush, his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, the former prime minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney. And Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of Great Britain, who has had several really bad months. Suffered a series of minor strokes. And it is our understanding that she recorded this eulogy on videotape just about two, three months ago.
GREENFIELD: Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan share a political legacy. They both had to challenge their own party leadership, their more moderate members to win their party's designation. They launched together an aggressive battle against the Soviet Empire. One that ended with success. So they really were partners for years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What we're seeing now on this split screen, the U.S. Capitol. That is the hearse that will carry the casket of Ronald Reagan's body to the National Cathedral. You're looking at on the right part of your screen at the National Cathedral. It's about a four and a half mile journey through the streets of Washington, D.C. This motorcade will go approximately, indeed, precisely 20 miles per hour, as it makes that journey through Washington to the National Cathedral.
Interestingly enough, the former U.S. Senator John Danforth, Paula, is going to be officiating at this formal service. It begins around 11:30 this morning here in Washington Eastern time. Billy Graham, the Reverend Billie Graham had been the first choice, but unfortunately, his health clearly has not been up to it. So Senator John Danforth, who has just been nominated, just been named by the president to become the next United States ambassador to the United Nations and is an Episcopal priest himself, he will lead this memorial service.
ZAHN: We also want to give you a sense of who, other than the folks you just mentioned, will be attending the services today. Mikhail Gorbachev, of course the former Soviet premier who made history with Ronald Reagan. Lech Walesa of Poland. Gerhardt Schroeder of Germany. You were talking a little bit earlier, Wolf, about the president of South Africa who will also be in attendance.
BLITZER: Thabo Mbeki, making a very beautiful gesture on behalf of the people of South Africa, coming to the United States to meet and to represent the emotions that are felt there -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: That is a really remarkable gesture, because Ronald Reagan did not have a good relationship with the African National Congress. They felt he was too kind to the white minority government of South Africa for a time, his policy of constructive engagement. But clearly this is a reconciliation gesture on the president of South Africa. And that ought to mean something. That ought to show you that with the passage of time, some of the intense, political battles on the international scene tend to fade. And instead the United States and now a black majority, Democratic South Africa are allies.
BLITZER: The casket will leave the rotunda on Capitol Hill at eventually heading here; the picture that we're seeing over at the National Cathedral. Mrs. Reagan, Nancy Reagan has spent the past night over at the Blair House, the official residence for guests of the president. You're seeing this picture of Mrs. Reagan with Major General Galen Jackman. He's the U.S. military escort, who's been with her since Sunday, the day after her husband died. This is a dramatic moment that all of us remember, when she went into the rotunda and spent a moment with her -- well, this is actually a live picture that we're seeing right now. She has returned to the rotunda to spend another moment or so with the casket.
ZAHN: A lot of -- a number of Mrs. Reagan's friends are quoted in the newspaper today saying, in "The Washington Post" at least, this will be the most difficult day that she will endure. Your heart goes out to her when you see the tremendous strain on her face.
BLITZER: Her beloved Ronnie, as she called him, her beloved Ronnie. That was such a touching moment, Jeff, when we saw her actually kiss that American flag. The American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on the day that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, January 20, 1981.
GREENFIELD: There was the letter that ran a couple of days ago, when Ronald Reagan must have been in his '40s visiting New York. In a letter he wrote to Nancy explaining how he felt she was with them. And it was the letter of a young couple very much in love. And may I say in a delicate way, in every sense of the word. He missed her spiritually and he missed her in other ways. And he told her in very polite but very clear language exactly how much he missed her, and felt her with him.
I don't think anyone of any persuasion can look at this decades- long relationship and see Mrs. Reagan now, and not realize for all the last 10 years, he's been taken from her by Alzheimer's, this is the -- this is the last moment she will have with him.
ZAHN: In spite of the fact that she's had 10 years to prepare herself for his end. Once again, her friends are saying she's having a great deal of difficulty letting go.
BLITZER: Judy woodruff is over at the National Cathedral. Judy, set the scene. What are you seeing?
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, I am actually sitting a few blocks from the cathedral. We chose this location because it was the closest we could get from a security standpoint. And right now, you can hear one of what must be 20 or 30 or more motorcades that have come by. The security is just tremendous. I actually live not too far from the cathedral, and I've never seen the area closed off, this wide an area around the cathedral closed off in all the years that I've lived in Washington.
We are going to be seeing, as you've been saying, world leaders. We are going to be seeing people, who may have disagreed with Ronald Reagan on the world stage, but who have come together with him. But we're also going to be seeing political leaders in this country who don't agree never agreed with the bulk of Ronald Reagan's philosophy. But they are here to pay their respects. Bill Clinton, the former president, will be here, Al Gore, former President Jimmy Carter. His Vice President Walter Mondale. Both of them were defeated by Ronald Reagan in general elections in 1980, of course, and 1984.
We are going to see a parade of Democrats and Republicans coming together in a week, when partisan politics is just off the table. They may go right back to it next week, but this week it is receded into the background. Because they have all come together to say that this was a man who made a difference in the lives of Americans, and in the life of America.
ZAHN: Just looking at a live picture of Rudy Giuliani, and the back of his wife's head, Judith Nathan. We're to understand that he did have some private time with the Reagan family yesterday.
BLITZER: And on the left part of our screen, Paula, we're seeing this Color Guard begin to move up the stairs toward the rotunda, to begin the process of removing the casket from -- of Ronald Reagan from the rotunda and bring him down to a hearse that will carry him. Mrs. Reagan will be in a separate limousine with her military escort, Major General Galen Jackman. And they will drive the short distance from Capitol Hill over to the National Cathedral.
This is a very, very carefully choreographed process, Paula. Every step literally has been worked out well in advance.
ZAHN: And that's no surprise when you have 130-page manual guiding you on the steps that need to be taken during a state funeral. It's interesting to note that all presidents in the last year of the presidency are asked to file a funeral plan. I think we're just seeing former President Jimmy Carter there. I believe I just made out Rosalynn there on the right section of your screen.
BLITZER: There's Walter Mondale over there, the former vice president of the United States standing by with Patricia Nixon, it looks like.
GREENFIELD: Walter Mondale is probably the one man who can say clearly, I defeated Ronald Reagan in a political debate in the first 1984 debate. That set the stage for one of Ronald Reagan's iconic political moments, when he came back and promised not to use his opponent's youth and inexperience against him. And it was a two-shot after that of Walter Mondale cracking up in laughter. And I have to believe at that moment, former Vice President Mondale may have been saying to himself, you know, this over.
ZAHN: Because Reagan ended up crushing him by 49 states.
GREENFIELD: ... so much for that issue. Lost 49 states, barely won his own state of Minnesota. He felt the full force of just how powerful Ronald Reagan was.
BLITZER: And Jeff and Paula, when you think about it, Jimmy Carter has come to Washington, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, First President Bush. And we see Walter Mondale, and other political adversaries; to at least on this day, the country is coming closer together.
GREENFIELD: And all but Bill Clinton ran against Ronald Reagan. Bush ran against him in the primary. Ford in '76 was almost unseated, and of course, Mondale and Carter. So except for Bill Clinton, who I guess was just too young and was spared that, all of them felt the power of Ronald Reagan as a political force. And as you say, Wolf, they're all here to pay their last respects.
BLITZER: I don't think any of us, Paula, should necessary get carried away and think this area of good will is going to continue on the political scene much longer than today and tomorrow.
ZAHN: You're seeing the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan now come into the cathedral. And we'll continue now to see dignitaries pour in, as we are a little...
BLITZER: As Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy who was at the G8 Summit near Savannah, Georgia -- Sea Island, Georgia. He, together with Gerhard Schroeder and other leaders have come. Interestingly enough, the French President Jacques Chirac decided to fly back to Paris instead of coming to Washington to participate. The source of, I guess, Jeff, some consternation out there that Chirac decided, in effect, I don't know if it's fair to say, he's snubbing the United States. But at least send that message that he's got other things he wants to do.
GREENFIELD: Well, you made a prediction on the air yesterday that was borne out by the conservative talk radio and television folks, that there would be some umbrage taken at that. And I was actually checking to see just how shrewd you are, Wolf. And you're exactly right. They were taking this as a sign of displeasure with President Bush. The argument is look, the people who served with Ronald Reagan during his tenure are the appropriate people to come and mark his passing.
BLITZER: And one of the most appropriate people to come will be Tony Blair, the British prime minister. And Prince Charles is going to be here as well. Obviously the United States and Britain, Paula, the two closest of allies, and that is being underscored by their participation. As well as Lady Thatcher, who is here as well.
ZAHN: A lot of people were surprised that Margaret Thatcher made this trip. We mentioned a little bit early on, her eulogy to President Reagan is on tape. But her doctors have banned her from all public speaking and most travel. So, for her to make this long trip here, and then to accompany Nancy Reagan later today, back for the burial in California says a lot about this strength of that bond.
BLITZER: I think it also says a lot about their effort. They want to help strengthen Nancy Reagan right now during these difficult days. They just want to make the statement -- as we see Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, walking into the National Cathedral. GREENFIELD: The interesting thing, I think, about both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Blair coming here, is that the United States has an unusual government. That is the head of government is also the head of states. We obviously don't have royalty. But in most of Europe, the person who runs the government is the prime minister. And the president is sometimes ceremonial. Here, we combine both those roles. So it is actually appropriate for the British to send their head of government, and perhaps the heir to the head of state, Prince Charles and Tony Blair; because it's two different functions that we wrap in one.
BLITZER: The crowd is going to be more than 3,000. The National Cathedral can hold as many as 4,000. Former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper walking in as well. Once again, underscoring this historic day in the United States, when everyone is almost coming together to receive -- to honor the former president.
On the left part of the screen, what we're seeing are some of the pallbearers, who will be part of the formal ceremony that will bring the late president of the United States to the National Cathedral. Some of the closest personal friends of Nancy Reagan and President Reagan -- Paula, let's go through who those pallbearers are.
ZAHN: Well, we just saw Merv Griffin, who is an old friend of President Reagan, obviously a Hollywood legend as a producer. John Hutton, who was formerly a general in the Armed Forces and attached to the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences. He happened to be one of President Reagan's personal physicians. Frederick Ryan, who is a chairman of the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. And Charles Wick, who is also a Hollywood veteran, he's a writer, producer of shows like -- or movies that is, like "Snow White" and "Three Stooges," and knew the president well.
BLITZER: He was the director of the USIA, the U.S. Information Agency, during all eight years of Ronald Reagan's presidency. And let's not forget Mike Deaver, of course, the former White House aide. One of the media consultants who was so close to the president -- there he is, right in the middle of the screen right there. Mike Deaver standing next to Fred Ryan, who was the chief of staff.
ZAHN: Bill Bennett on the right part of your screen, President Reagan's education secretary.
BLITZER: And drug czar, someone who is close to the Reagans, clearly influenced by the Reagans. And there he is, Kofi Annan, the United Nations' secretary-general who has come to pay his respects as well.
So much of the world, Jeff, has come here today.
GREENFIELD: I was remembering, I guess, inevitably, the scene from John Kennedy's funeral when so many of the world leaders, most imposingly French President Charles de Gaulle, walked behind in the funeral cortege. This is obviously a different occasion. But it would be hard to think of a recent American president who had more impact on the world stage than Ronald Reagan. There's fundamental reshaping of alliances and confrontations.
ZAHN: You're seeing members of the Reagan family reposition themselves around the U.S. Capitol. We assume to watch the casket be put on the hearse, the travel to the National Cathedral. Patti Davis, Ron Reagan there.
There has been a lot of talk about how Patti Davis' relationship has changed over the years, particularly after she had to accept her father's illness. There was great tension in that relationship. And she has written quite poignantly over the last several years about how her father's challenge brought the two of them closer together.
We had a photographer on last night, who for 30 years, captured images of Ronald Reagan, not only as president, but even in his campaign as he ran for governor. And there were a number of shots of him, the president -- or then gubernatorial candidate holding children. And he talked about how that was highly intimidating to Ronald Reagan's children, because they had to accept that that was time away from them.
BLITZER: That's Michael Reagan also in the middle of the screen, next to Patti Davis. And Doria is Ron Reagan's wife next to Ron Reagan. Our viewers are seeing the Reagan family. They are there, up on Capitol Hill right now, getting ready for this next step.
The military Color Guard going into the rotunda to begin the process of taking that casket, the flog-draped -- the flag-draped casket, removing it and carrying it to the hearse that will drive the former president of the United States to the National Cathedral.
It's been empty now for about an hour or so, the rotunda. But more than 100,000 people managed to walk through in the past day or so and pay their personal respects. Another 100,000 had done so at the presidential library in Simi Valley earlier.
This is a moment, Jeff, for Americans to sort of reflect and cherish what's going on.
GREENFIELD: I -- I -- we're a country that was born in rebellion against royalty and pomp and circumstance. Maybe -- it's played at high school graduations. We claim to not like it. And yet, the very fact that we don't have a royal family, we don't have nobility, makes moments like these particularly special. They are the closest thing we have to the kinds of ceremonies that were very and are very common in Europe.
This is the sort of stuff that people, as I said earlier, are going to remember. You know, people talk. Older people talk about where they were when Roosevelt died, or what they remember about seeing a famous person, either pass through alive or dead. I think you're right. I think this is one of those moments that people say, all right, even though we're a country born to the common folk, there is a reason why we commemorate with this kind of pageantry.
ZAHN: One of the things that struck me are the number of young people that came to pay their respects to Ronald Reagan. And I'm talking about teenagers, 16, 17, 18-year-olds. And when we interviewed them, they all said that there was something very appealing to them about Ronald Reagan. Even though many of them weren't around when he was president, because he was so optimistic. And made them believe in America.
BLITZER: Let's watch this ceremony take place, this next stage.
The family of Ronald Reagan waiting for the casket to come down these stairs. There's the back -- from the back you see Mrs. Reagan, accompanied by her military escort. The family, to her right; to the right of our screen. This casket will be brought to the hearse for the drive over to the National Cathedral.
Paula, there will be a 21-gun salute as part of this formal ceremony as the casket is carried down the House steps and loaded into the hearse.
ZAHN: And the trip from the rotunda to the National Cathedral is a short one, just about four and a half miles. The weather has kind of turned here in Washington. Originally, government officials thought that since this is a national holiday, with the government pretty much shut down that you would see throngs as people, as the hearse made its way to the cathedral. But with drizzle, I don't know about that.
BLITZER: The limousine carrying Nancy Reagan, the limousine that will follow the hearse from Capitol Hill to the National Cathedral on this day. Overcast a little bit. You can see the drizzle beginning to come down. It had been sunny and hot when this casket arrived here in Washington. Now the clouds beginning to open up just a little bit.
As we watch this motorcade begin the process of driving four and a half miles from Capitol Hill to the National Cathedral, our senior White House correspondent John King is at the White House. John, I take it the president has just departed?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The 43rd president has just departed, Wolf. His motorcade now headed for the National Cathedral. In that motorcade the first lady Laura Bush, also the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, who was, of course, Ronald Reagan's vice president for eight years.
Both Presidents Bush will deliver eulogies today at the National Cathedral. The current president ran through his with his staff about an hour ago now. We're told he had a final walk-through and read- through of his eulogy. Aides say it will run about 15 minutes.
While the former President Bush will deliver more personal reflections on Ronald Reagan, the current President Bush, we are told, wants to reflect more on what he believes Ronald Reagan meant to the country and to the world. The president will describe Ronald Reagan as someone who brought optimism and patriotism back to America, we are told. He spent about 40 minutes with Nancy Reagan last night after going up to the Capitol Rotunda to pay respects. White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett telling me a short time ago that he cherished the opportunity he and Mrs. Bush had with Mrs. Reagan had last night. He called it a time of reflection on a great man and comfort to a grieving yet proud wife.
Now, Wolf, Mr. Bush has delivered a eulogy of sorts from this alter at the National Cathedral once before, of course. He spoke in the memorial service for the victims of the September 11 attacks. And Mr. Bush mourned 3,000 Americans lost then. He will mourn the loss of the 40th president of the United States about an hour from now.
BLITZER: Thanks, John.
You're seeing the back of Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister of Canada with Mikhail Gorbachev as this motorcade begins leaves Capitol Hill to head over to the National Cathedral.
ZAHN: We want to bring Christiane Amanpour to the conversation now to talk a little bit more about the heads of state we've already seen who've entered the cathedral. Among them, German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, the prime minister of Italy, Mr. Berlusconi, the prime minister of Great Britain.
And we are looking at Margaret Thatcher. People are quite surprised to see her standing as she is. Her doctors had not let her do much travel lately. But she is there. And has a very long day ahead because she will be accompanying Mrs. Reagan back to California.
Christiane, as we look at pictures of Gerald Ford, we actually just saw President Clinton and the former president exchange some very warm greetings. They put hands on each other's shoulders. Talk a little bit about the reaction in Europe to the state funeral.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the family of the former president Reagan gathers and the American family gathers, so, too, really does the family of nations.
BLITZER: Are viewers are watching this, Paula, around the world on CNN International. This is a moment where so much of the world will focus in on what's happening in Washington, D.C.
And this is a picture that our viewers are now seeing inside the National Cathedral. There's Margaret Thatcher with former prime minister Brian Mulroney and Mikhail Gorbachev just sitting down over there, getting ready for the next stage of the state funeral.
ZAHN: The former prime minister of Canada will also be among those who eulogize President Reagan.
GREENFIELD: I believe on of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will be Lech Walesa, the Solidarity Leader in 1981. Lech Walesa wrote a quite interesting piece in today's "The Wall Street Journal." He said, "We owe him our liberty." And he talked about the fact that the cowboy image of Ronald Reagan, that the Soviets ridiculed, he said, "Cowboys fight for justice, fight against evil, fight for freedom. And when there were finally free elections in Poland, the Solidarity Movement used the symbol of Gary Cooper in 'High Noon,' the ultimate cowboy and won thumpingly."
And he will be in attendance at the National Cathedral, I believe, today.
BLITZER: Lech Walesa will be here, the former president of Poland, who was so instrumental in helping to end the Cold War. And there you see him in the front of the screen over there. Gerald Ford, president of the United States as well. So many presidents...
BLITZER: ... members of the U.S. Congress, governors, American leaders from all ranks and files.
ZAHN: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld there. Let's continue to watch worshipers such as Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.
Let's check in with Christiane to give us a sense of what the reaction is in Europe to this national funeral. Christiane, are you there now?
AMANPOUR: Yes, Paula. As the American family and the family of Ronald Reagan are watching, so too, really are the family of nations because president Reagan had a profound impact on the world during the eight years in which he served, some of them extremely positive and some of them regarded as not so positive.
But certainly, if you look just at today's title page of "The Economist," it says quite simply, "The man who beat communism." And it says, "Ronald Reagan was fond of a nap and no intellectual. Oddly enough, though, when it came to confronting communism, he had what it took."
And although his obituaries and his champions proclaim him as the sole defeater of communism, certainly his most important relationships during his presidency in terms of international affairs were then- Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who is there, as you've been noting, who basically said that "the Soviet leadership could not have done this on its own, although we were willing. President Reagan could not have done this on his own, although he was willing. It took our special partnership to do this."
And because Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan have an incredible joint work that they've done that have brought really the world to this place.
And the other very special relationship that he had is with Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister for 11 years. He was the American president for eight of her 11 years. And they were ideological soul mates. And they had a profound impact on each other's policies. Margaret Thatcher was the first one, international leader to have met Mikhail Gorbachev. And she reported to her Western allies and fellow heads of government and state that "this was a man with whom I can do business. We can do business with him."
And I remember, you know, in 1985, as I'm sure everybody does electrified watching the television screens as Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met on the steps of that formal house in house of Geneva for their first face-to-face meeting. And everyone wondered what the outcome would be. Would Ronald Reagan come across as the person who had called it an "evil empire"? Or would there be a new relationship, which, indeed, there was.
ZAHN: And if you were to read anything Mikhail Gorbachev has written recently, he certainly reaffirmed that.
There was an interesting quote that appeared in newspapers last weekend where Mikhail Gorbachev reflecting on Mr. Reagan's life said, "To use the terminology of those years, he was a hawk. Nevertheless, that hawk loved life. He was a man who respected traditions. And I think he was concerned about how he would be remembered in history."
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff is over at the National Cathedral. At least not very far away. Judy, we hear that haunting bell beginning to chime. I'm sure it's very powerful where you are as well. This is going to have once a minute, I take it, as this service unfolds?
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf. As soon as the hearse carrying President Reagan's casket left the Capitol, the bell began to peel. And it's just one more element making this ceremony the closest thing we have in the United States to what one would see in a monarchy because you have all the pomp and circumstance that one would expect in Great Britain, for example.
And you look at this majestic cathedral. There is the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington. A truly beautiful building that was decades in the building that is going to hold over 3,000 people this morning.
It all comes together, the place the music, the ceremony. It really is as close as the United States comes to experiencing royalty.
And, you know, we just saw Prince Charles sitting there in the cathedral. We are seeing all the these leaders from all over the world. And ordinary people. There are friends of the Reagan family who are there.
I was listening to you all speak about Mikhail Gorbachev a minute ago. And I noticed he told a reporter just yesterday that by the end of Ronald Reagan's term in office, he was visiting Moscow, and he said -- someone said to him, "Do you still regard the Soviet Union as an evil empire?" And by then Ronald Reagan said no. Gorbachev said very proudly that his views had changed.
So many things have come full circle, not just during the times that Ronald Reagan was president, but certainly in the many years since.
BLITZER: Judy, this is a majestic, a simply magnificent cathedral here in the nation's Capitol. The official name of the Washington National Cathedral, by the way, is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Nearly 700,000 visitors and worshipers come by this cathedral every year. It's the sixth largest cathedral in the world, the second largest in the United States. St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is the largest church in the world. St. John's in New York City, Paula, is the largest cathedral in the United States.
But it is so very majestic, so appropriate for this day.
ZAHN: We have shown you from time to time some of the beautiful stained glass that adorns this church. There is a particular window that you might see at some point which actually contains a piece of lunar rock that was presented to the cathedral by astronauts of an Apollo mission. A lot of history in this place.
BLITZER: The cathedral center tower -- here's another fact -- is as tall as a 30-story building. The central tower specifically 676 feet above sea level, making its top the highest point actually in the District of Columbia. It's truly majestic moment. And the president, Paula, has now arrived with the first lady.
ZAHN: Jeff, what goes through your mind when we saw the shot where all these living presidents were panned? You saw President Ford and Betty Ford sitting next to Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn, and not too far away Bill Clinton and Hillary.
GREENFIELD: The same feeling I get when an inaugural happens. And in the past inaugurals I've been out on the West Front looking at this.
It's an astonishing picture because you actually do see all these connections that take you back years, and sometimes even decades. You take a look at these pictures, these cross-shots. And there's Bill and Hillary Clinton. And there's Mikhail Gorbachev sitting next to Margaret Thatcher. The two -- you know, from the countries that were major adversaries in the 1980s.
You see presidents, not only presidents past and present one, but at least couple of people who we've glimpsed already in that crowd. I'm thinking of Rudy Giuliani, I'm thinking of Hillary Clinton, who might have designs on that job on their own.
And this is just one of those very few moments when as Judy Woodruff said, and, Wolf, I think you mentioned, partisan politics are put aside. And there's the ceremony.
And I can't help feeling that as they sit there, as all of us have been through these kinds of events, less regal, you think, OK, this is the emotion for today. This is Friday. By Monday morning, that whole other flow of emotions of ambition and political controversy and political battle is going to be renewed again.
This is a nice moment when this is put aside and it stops. All these powerful people and people with designs on more power say, OK, for now, it's a different moment. ZAHN: That may be true about your Monday prediction. But as you well know, already in some of the editorial pages of the newspapers today, there's a lot of analysis of what people see as a very blurred read on the Reagan legacy.
GREENFIELD: We've already seen some conservatives angrily -- well, of at least firmly saying, no, no, you liberals, don't claim part of his legacy. Don't talk about his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and optimism. This is also a man with firmly held conservative political beliefs.
And don't tell us that it was a negotiated settlement with communism. Ronald Reagan said all his life that communism was an abhorration and he wanted to see it wither and die. And at least with respect to the Soviet Union he got that wish.
So you're quite right, Paula. The battles are begun even as we pause for these ceremonial moments.
ZAHN: Seeing former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Secretary of State George Schultz.
BLITZER: ... Colin Powell we see -- the current secretary of state, the seating here is all very carefully organized, according to protocol. It's not happenstance by any means. of course, members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, former cabinet members. There's the Supreme Court, the justices of the Supreme Court have, of course, come and representatives of the diplomatic corps.
You see in the middle of the screen Prince Bandar wearing the tagiyah, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Washington, the longest-serving diplomat in Washington. The representatives of the Diplomatic Corps have come. Representatives of the cabinet. Former presidents.
Literally, a who's who, Jeff, of important people from within, of course, the United States, but from around the world.
GREENFIELD: You saw a moment amount Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He was elevated to that post by Ronald Reagan. He'd been put on the court by Richard Nixon. And Reagan made him chief justice of the United States. He's also, I believe, now the longest serving member of the court.
ZAHN: We saw a little bit earlier Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas.
BLITZER: That hearse, as it's driving through Washington, will eventually make its way over to Massachusetts avenue, for those of our viewers familiar with the District of Columbia, and go up to Wisconsin Avenue where the National Cathedral is located. Right now it's going down a part of the area of the nation's capital where so many government buildings are. And one thing, interestingly, it won't be going all that far away from the Reagan Building itself, which is after the Pentagon, the second largest federal office building in Washington, D.C. right now.
GREENFIELD: There's an irony. The man who wanted to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, who was very articulate about government bureaucracy, there are more government bureaucrats working in the Ronald Reagan Building than some say, I guess, any other building other but the Pentagon.
BLITZER: It's an amazing fact. But it's a true one.
ZAHN: And on this day when federal offices are closed, banks closed, many schools across the country closed, it's interesting to note there is one sector of the business community that will not be at work today. The Telemarketing Association has encouraged its callers not to make phone calls to American residents today. Nice of them, huh?
BLITZER: Not necessarily an appropriate thing to do on this national day of mourning in the United States.
Prince Charles and Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister of Canada. You know, Paula, I spoke with him yesterday. He's going to be delivering one of those eulogies. And he had met with Nancy Reagan. And he emerged from Blair House to say how strong he felt she was. Even though she may look frail on television, he was really impressed that she was doing all right under these circumstances.
ZAHN: Mr. Mulroney has also been quoted as saying of Ronald Reagan, quote, "He was probably one of the few leaders, that I've met around the world, who was entirely free from malice. He actually never had a bad word to say about anybody."
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff, I assume that that whole area around the national cathedral has basically been shut down, given the number of world leaders, the security precautions, the streets that have been closed. It must be rather intense. You and I have been in Washington a long time. Have you ever seen anything like this around that part of the city?
WOODRUFF: Wolf, if you're talking to me, I was -- didn't hear you call my name. But yes, absolutely. We've never seen anything like it. Somebody said we may see as many 50 secure motorcade approaching the cathedral. That's why they have blocked off I don't know how many square blocks around here.
And there people who were standing out on the street as early as 6:00, 5:00 this morning wanting to catch a glimpse of this motorcade. It's not just Californians and it's not just those who wanted to come to the capital from the surrounding states. People who live in the District of Columbia are genuinely moved by Ronald Reagan and by what he meant. And they're out here too.
The weather is turning worse by the minute, I have to say. We got up here about an hour ago. It was beginning to mist. And now it's coming down. And it's wetter than it was, let me put it that way. And somehow it, you know, fits the mood, I suppose you could say because...
BLITZER: I want to point out that, Judy, this motorcade is now passing the World War II Memorial here on the National Mall. This is the memorial that was just opened up Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the veterans, those who struggled and saved the world, Paula, during World War II. You were there when it was dedicated.
ZAHN: Which was an incredible ceremony just over the Memorial Day Weekend. I'm reminded what Ronald Reagan did during World War II is essentially make training films for the U.S. government.
GREENFIELD: And yet there is a connection because Ronald Reagan died on the eve of the 60th anniversary of D-Day. One of Ronald Reagan's great speeches on the 40th anniversary, the famous these are the boys of Point du Hoc, these are the men who took the cliffs.
And you see particularly among Reagan's stronger admirers on policy a kind of link. They're saying the resoluteness of World War II was what Reagan brought to the Cold War. And, they will argue, that's what Bush is bringing to the war on terror.
Now, obviously, there are political adversaries who don't accept that. But the timing of Reagan's passing, so close to the D-Day anniversary, I think kind of -- and a week after the World War II dedication, melds those two things in a lot of our minds even though Ronald Reagan was indeed a maker of training films in World War II and his war was the Cold War.
BLITZER: President Bush and Barbara bush walking into this majestic national cathedral. Let's just listen a little bit to this wonderful music.
BLITZER: Interestingly, I was going to say, Paula, if we see the way they're seated, the former presidents. What a scene that is. I don't exactly know why Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are in one row ahead of the other former president. But maybe, Jeff or Paula, maybe you know.
ZAHN: Loaded in in the order in what they were elected.
GREENFIELD: I'm guessing it's the election. He's the most recent ex-president.
ZAHN: Seems the most diplomatic way of doing it.
GREENFIELD: I know this is an town that always likes more complicated explanations. But I think that's probably it.
BLITZER: Maybe John King, our reporter at the White House, knows -- John.
KING: That is, in fact, the case. And it is protocol and it is also according to the plan drafted by former President Reagan, and of course, fine-tuned by Nancy Reagan over the past ten years. The presidents will sitting in the order of their service.
ZAHN: Let's listen to Ronan Tynan who will sing several (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this morning.
BLITZER: What we're seeing now, the motorcade has now arrived at the National Cathedral here in Washington. The motorcade bringing the casket of Ronald Reagan. As well as the car, the separate limousines, bringing Nancy Reagan and her family to this National Cathedral.
The president of the United States, the first lady, now being escorted to their seats, inside as well.
ZAHN: We just saw the first lady put a hand on the shoulder of Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Let's bring Judy woodruff now back into the conversation who is right outside the cathedral -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Paula, we are watching the same pictures you are. And we're watching the motorcade with Mrs. Reagan come out. We want to keep a close look at Mrs. Reagan. Of course, we're all watching her.
But on Wednesday, I'm told, that on the suit she was wearing two small miniatures. I noticed that she had two pins that were very close together, but I was never able to get a close enough look. I've been told since then that each of those pins was a miniature of her husband. One of Ronald Reagan as a baby, and the other of him as president.
This was on Wednesday, the day that she flew with the casket across the country to Washington. She wore that throughout the ceremonies there at the Capitol. She may very well be wearing that again today. We're all going to be looking.
I just have to join in with all of you and just say what a remarkable rare thing it is, to see all of these former presidents, every living one -- the one living, and every former living president together. We don't see that, except in moments of great tragedy. Too often, it is a moment of great tragedy, and mourning, such as this one.
BLITZER: The empty seats on the left are the seats that are being saved for Mrs. Reagan, for the family, for the other distinguished guests who are being escorted now in this motorcade to the National Cathedral. Once they are inside, of course, this formal service will begin.
There's John Danforth in the middle of the screen, the former United States senator, the man designated to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, standing on the steps outside the National Cathedral. He's an Episcopal priest, and he will lead this service.
ZAHN: He once came up against Ronald Reagan over a very explosive political issue. And he said of the president that he never said anything mean or nasty or angry about it at all. It's what you really, really wanted to support him for, after all.
GREENFIELD: And if you're looking for yet more connections, John Danforth was the mentor of Clarence Thomas, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by the first President Bush, whose presidency not would have happened but for the fact that Ronald Reagan at a dramatic moment in 1980, after consulting with former President Ford on whether he might join Reagan's ticket as vice president.
Deciding that wouldn't work, picked George Bush, the man he would run against in the primaries. Bush ascended to the presidency eight years later, largely on Reagan's -- or substantially on Reagan's record. And that's why Danforth's protegee Thomas is on the Supreme Court. The connections in this cathedral, you could probably spend the rest of the day drawing them out.
BLITZER: There will be other representatives of other religious groups here at this event as well, including the Catholic archbishop of Washington, his Eminence Theodore -- Cardinal McCarrick will be here. His Eminence, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios will be here as well. As well as the Imam Muhammad Magid Ali, the imam and director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society who will come.
And as we look at the honorary pallbearers who already here at the National Cathedral including Merv Griffin and Charles Wick in the middle of your screen, let's also note that Rabbi Harold Kushner will actually be reading from the Old Testament at this service, once it begins.
So all religious faiths will be participating, in effect, in honoring the 40th president of the United States.
ZAHN: John King, I know you were reflecting on the same pictures we were looking at from here, when we saw all the living presidents in the first two rows here in the cathedral. And there's been a lot of talk about how the former President Bush is going to separate his eulogy from his son. Do you have any more thoughts on what we might hear later today?
KING: Many comparisons, Paula, made this week between the current President Bush and President Reagan. Both Western governors, both came to town pushing tax cuts, both think of themselves, thought of themselves as plainspoken men.
One big difference. When they played "Hail to the Chief" outside the Capitol this morning, when this President Bush took office, he told aides not to play it. he found it too pretentious. He often seems to be speed walking from meeting to meeting. He has a very quick pace about him. Ronald Reagan walked with this slow lazy gate, always looking over his shoulder, someone who I think, much more than the current president, wanted to savor every last second of the pageantry of the presidency.
ZAHN: There was some second-guessing earlier this week when the president did not make it back on Tuesday into the Capital Rotunda because he was at the G8 Summit. And yet -- you covered this yesterday -- he made a personal visit to Nancy Reagan at the Blair House and also visited the Rotunda.
Tell us a little bit more about what relationship existed between George W. Bush and President Reagan.
KING: They met each other, of course, many times when this president's father was the vice president. No one here says there was any close personal relationship between the current president and former President Reagan.
They do say that this president has developed a very friendly, cordial relationship with Nancy Reagan. Much has been made of the difference in the issue of stem cell research. But aides say this president checks in with her time to time, has done so throughout his presidency. And that they have quite a nice personal rapport.
And they did spend 40 minutes, Laura Bush and George Bush with Nancy Reagan last night. And you mentioned the G8 Summit. Aides say Mr. Bush left that up to Nancy Reagan. It was obviously a very important moment for this president on the international stage. And then Nancy Reagan said, "If you think you need to be there, please stay put."
ZAHN: Thank you, John.
Dreary day out there.
BLITZER: It is dreary. And so many have already pointed out, and I'm sure many more will continue to point out, perhaps appropriate on this national day of mourning here in the United States that it's overcast, that it's drizzling and it may actually start raining a little bit harder in the coming hours.
GREENFIELD: John mentioned the close relationship between Nancy Reagan and President Bush. There is, in a political sense, an interesting, and I think, growing debate, within the American right of whether George W. Bush's policies with Iraq are a continuation of what Ronald Reagan would have done and a repetition.
It has split the so-called neo-conservatives, people like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, that view, from more traditional conservatives who have a more skeptical view of international engagement in general.
And this fight is going on in conservative publications even as we are speaking. It's raging in the pages of the American spectator. And different sides among conservatives are taking sides on whether George W. Bush is carrying on Reagan's philosophy or breaking with it.
BLITZER: The four and a half mile journey from Capitol Hill to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. has now come to an end, as this hearse carrying the casket of Ronald Reagan arrives in the front of the National Cathedral. It will be removed from the casket, carried inside as this memorial service will get under way.
The chimes, the bells, will continue to ring once a minute for the time being. And then afterwards there will be a much, much louder and sustained chiming of those bells.
ZAHN: Let's just watch and listen.
BISHOP JOHN BRYSON CHANE, DEAN, WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother Ronald for burial. Let us pray with confidence to God, the giver of life, that he will raise him to perfection in the company of the saints.
Deliver your servant Ronald, oh sovereign lord Christ, from all evil, and set him free from every bond, that he may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one god forever and ever.
Let us also pray for all who mourn, that they may cast their care on God and know the consolation of his love.
Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of your servants for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in your mercy, nourish them with patience, comfort them with a sense of your goodness, life up your countenance upon them and give them peace through Jesus Christ our lord.
FORMER SENATOR JOHN DANFORTH, EPISCOPAL MINISTER: "'I am the resurrection and the life,' said the Lord. 'He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.'"
"I know that my redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the later day upon the Earth. And though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold and not as a stranger. For none of us liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live under the Lord, and if we die, we die under the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord even so says the spirit, for they rest from their labors."
Oh, God, whose mercies cannot be numbered, accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant, Ronald, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reignth with thee in the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
RABBI HAROLD KUSHER: Where does a person find the strength to persevere in difficult times? Many people find that strength from the pages of the Bible.
Turning to the Book of Isaiah, the 40th chapter: "Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, creator of the ends of the Earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the faint. And to them that have no might, he increases strength. Even youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail."
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not feel faint."
Here ends the reading.
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: This is a reading from a sermon delivered in 1630 by the Pilgrim leader John Winthrop, who was aboard the ship the Arabella on his way from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. "The city on the hill" passage was referenced by President Reagan in several notable speeches.
"Now, the only way to provide for posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah: to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.
"We must delight in each other, make others conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work as members of the same body.
"The Lord will be our god and delight to dwell among us as his own people.
"For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world."
DANFORTH: President Reagan's deepest long-held wish was that Lady Thatcher should participate in this service. But as the years have passed, Lady Thatcher's health, too, has suffered its ups and downs. Eighteen months ago, her doctors advised her to give up all formal public speaking. But she was determined to record her tribute to President Reagan come what may, and this she has done.
She was equally determined, on learning of the president's death, to be with us today. The next voice you will hear will be Lady Thatcher's. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: We have lost a great president, a great American and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend.
In his lifetime, Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world and to free the slaves of communism.
These were causes hard to accomplish and heavy with risk. Yet they were pursued with almost a lightness of spirit, for Ronald Reagan also embodied another great cause, what Arnold Bennett once called the great cause of cheering us all up.
His politics had a freshness and optimism that won converts from every class and every nation, and ultimately from the very heart of the evil empire.
Yet his humor often had a purpose beyond humor. In the terrible hours after the attempt on his life, his easy jokes gave reassurances to an anxious world. They were evidence that in the aftermath of terror, and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular. They were truly grace under pressure.
And perhaps they signified grace of a deeper kind. Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose.
As he told a priest after his recovery, "Whatever time I've got left now belongs to the big fellow upstairs."
And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan's life was providential when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed.
Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom. Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity. Others hoped at best for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; 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.
I can't imagine how any diplomat or any dramatist could improve on his words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit: "Let me tell you why it is we distrust you."
Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear, but they're also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that will be rooted in trust.
We live today in the world that Ronald Reagan began to reshape with those words. It is a very different world with different challenges and new dangers. All in all, however, it is one of greater freedom and prosperity, one more hopeful than the world he inherited on becoming president.
As prime minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency, and I've had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president.
Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly. He acted upon them decisively.
When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled or disorientated or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do. When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire drafts of proposals because they knew the old man would never wear.
When his allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership. And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding.
Yet his ideas so clear were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth. Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion. But he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform.
Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's evil empire. But he realized that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors.
So the president resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of those pressures and its own failures.
And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation.
Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity. And nothing was more American.
Therein lies perhaps the final explanation of his achievements.
Ronald Reagan carried the American people with him in his great endeavors because there was perfect sympathy between them. He indeed loved America and what it stands for: freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.
As an actor in Hollywood's golden age, he helped to make the American dream live for millions all over the globe. His own life was a fulfillment of that dream. He never succumbed to the embarrassment some people feel about an honest expression of love of country. He was able to say, "God bless America" with equal fervor in public and in private.
And so he was able to call confidently upon his fellow countrymen to make sacrifices for America and to make sacrifices for those who looked to America for hope and rescue.
With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today, the world, in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself, the world mourns the passing of the great liberator and echoes his prayer: "God bless America."
Ronald Reagan's life was rich, not only in public achievement, but also in private happiness. Indeed, his public achievements were rooted in his private happiness.
The great turning point of his life was his meeting and marriage with Nancy. On that, we have the plain testimony of a loving and grateful husband: "Nancy came along and saved my soul."
We share her grief today, but we also share her pride and the grief and pride of Ronnie's children.
For the final years of his life, Ronnie's mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again, more himself than at anytime on this Earth for we may be sure that the big fellow upstairs never forgets those who remember him.
And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as Heaven's morning broke, I like to think, in the words of Bunyan, that all little trumpets sounded on the other side.
We here still move in twilight, but we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had; we have his example.
Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children.
BRIAN MULRONEY, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: In the spring of 1987, President Reagan and I were driven into a large hangar at the Ottawa airport to await the arrival of Mrs. Reagan and my wife Mila prior to departure ceremonies for their return to Washington.
We were alone except for the security details.
President Reagan's visit had been important, demanding and successful. Our discussions reflected the international agenda of the times: the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union and the missile deployment by NATO, pressures in the Warsaw Pact, challenges resulting from the Berlin Wall and the ongoing separation of Germany, and bilateral and hemispheric free trade. President Reagan had spoken to Parliament, handled complex files with skill and good humor, strongly impressing his Canadian hosts. And here we were waiting for our wives.
When their car drove in a moment later, out stepped Nancy and Mila looking like a million bucks. And as they headed towards us, President Reagan beamed. He threw his arm around my shoulder. And he said with a grin, "You know, Brian, for two Irishmen, we sure married up."
In that visit, in that moment, one saw the quintessential Ronald Reagan: the leader we respected, the neighbor we admired, and the friend we loved, a president of the United States of America whose truly remarkable life we celebrate in this magnificent cathedral today.
Presidents and prime ministers everywhere, I suspect, sometimes wonder how history will deal with them. Some even evince a touch of the insecurity of Thomas Darcy McGee, an Irish immigrant to Canada who became a father of our confederation.
In one of his poems, McGee, thinking of his birthplace, wrote poignantly, "Am I remembered in Erin? I charge you speak me true. Has my name a sound, a meaning in the scenes my boyhood knew?"
Ronald Reagan will not have to worry about Erin because they remember him well and affectionately there. Indeed they do.
From Erin to Estonia, from Maryland to Madagascar, from Montreal to Monterey, Ronald Reagan does not enter history tentatively. He does so with certainty and panache.
At home and on the world stage, his were not the pallid etchings of a timorous politician. They were the bold strokes of a confident and accomplished leader.
Some in the West, during the early 1980s, believed communism and democracy were equally valid and viable. This was the school of moral equivalence.
In contrast, Ronald Reagan saw Soviet communism as a menace to be confronted in the genuine belief that its squalid underpinnings would fall swiftly to the gathering winds of freedom, provided as he said, that NATO and the industrialized democracies stood firm and united. They did. And we know now who was right.
Ronald Reagan was a president who inspired his nation and transformed the world. He possessed a rare and prized gift called leadership, that ineffable and magical quality that sets some men and women apart so that millions will follow them as they conjure up grand visions and invite their countrymen to dream big and exciting dreams.
I always thought that President Reagan's understanding of the nobility of the presidency coincided with that American dream.
One day, in Brussels, President Mitterand, in referring to President Reagan, said, "Il a vraiment la notion de l'etat"; rough translation: "He really has a sense of the state about him."
The translation does not fully capture the profundity of the observation.
What President Mitterrand meant is that there is a vast difference between the job of president and the role of president.
Ronald Reagan fulfilled both with elegance and ease, embodying himself that unusual alchemy of history and tradition and achievement and inspirational conduct and national pride that defined the special role the president of the United States of America must assume at all times at home and around the world.
La notion de l'etat; no one understood it better than Ronald Reagan. And no one could more eloquently summon his nation to high purpose or bring forth the majesty of the presidency and make it glow better than the man who referred to his own nation as a city on the hill.
May our common future and that of our great nations be guided by wise men and women who will remember always the golden achievements of the Reagan era and the success that can be theirs if the values of freedom and democracy are preserved, unsullied and undiminished until the unfolding decades can remember little else.
I have been truly blessed to have been a friend of Ronald Reagan. I am grateful that our paths crossed and that our lives touched. I shall always remember him with the deepest admiration and affection.
And I will always feel honored by the journey that we traveled together in search of better and more peaceful tomorrows for all God's children everywhere.
And so in the presence of his beloved and indispensable Nancy, his children, his family, his friends and all of the American people that he so deeply revered, I say au revoir today to a gifted leader and historic president and a gracious human being.
And I do so with a line from Yeats, who wrote, "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say, 'My glory was that I had such friends.'"
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, "The New York Times" wrote, "Men will thank God 100 years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House."
It will not take a 100 years to thank God for Ronald Reagan. But why? Why was he so admired? Why was he so beloved?
He was beloved, first, because of what he was. Politics can be cruel, uncivil.
Our friend was strong and gentle.
Once he called America hopeful, big hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair. That was America and, yes, our friend.
And next, Ronald Reagan was beloved because of what he believed. He believed in America so he made it his shining city on a hill. He believed in freedom so he acted on behalf of its values and ideals. He believed in tomorrow so the great communicator became the great liberator.
He talked of winning one for the Gipper and as president, through his relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev with us today, the Gipper, and yes Mikhail Gorbachev, won one for peace around the world.
If Ronald Reagan created a better world for many millions it was because of the world someone else created for him.
Nancy was there for him always. Her love for him provided much of his strength, and their love together transformed all of us as we've seen -- renewed seeing again here in the last few days.
And one of the many memories we all have of both of them is the comfort they provided during our national tragedies.
Whether it was the families of the crew of the Challenger shuttle or the USS Stark or the Marines killed in Beirut, we will never forget those images of the president and first lady embracing them and embracing us during times of sorrow.
So, Nancy, I want to say this to you: Today, America embraces you. We open up our arms. We seek to comfort you, to tell you of our admiration for your courage and your selfless caring.
And to the Reagan kids -- it's OK for me to say that at 80 -- Michael, Ron, Patti, today all of our sympathy, all of our condolences to you all, and remember, too, your sister Maureen home safe now with her father.
As his vice president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life. I learned kindness; we all did. I also learned courage; the nation did.
Who can forget the horrible day in March 1981, he looked at the doctors in the emergency room and said, "I hope you're all Republicans."
And then I learned decency; the whole world did. Days after being shot, weak from wounds, he spilled water from a sink, and entering the hospital room aides saw him on his hands and knees wiping water from the floor. He worried that his nurse would get in trouble.
The good book says humility goes before honor, and our friend had both, and who could not cherish such a man?
And perhaps as important as anything, I learned a lot about humor, a lot about laughter. And, oh, how President Reagan loved a good story.
When asked, "How did your visit go with Bishop Tutu?" he replied, "So-so."
It was typical. It was wonderful.
And in leaving the White House, the very last day, he left in the yard outside the Oval Office door a little sign for the squirrels. He loved to feed those squirrels. And he left this sign that said, "Beware of the dog," and to no avail, because our dog Millie came in and beat the heck out of the squirrels.
But anyway, he also left me a note, at the top of which said, "Don't let the turkeys get you down."
Well, he certainly never let him get him down. And he fought hard for his beliefs. But he led from conviction, but never made an adversary into an enemy. He was never mean-spirited.
Reverend Billy Graham, who I refer to as the nation's pastor, is now hospitalized and regrets that he can't be here today. And I asked him for a Bible passage that might be appropriate. And he suggested this from Psalm 37: "The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm. Though he stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
And then this, too, from 37: "There is a future for the man of peace."
God bless you, Ronald Wilson Reagan and the nation you loved and led so well.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mrs. Reagan, Patti, Michael and Ron, members of the Reagan family, distinguished guests, including our presidents and first ladies, Reverend Danforth, fellow citizens, we lost Ronald Reagan only days ago but we have missed him for a long time. We have missed his kindly presence, that reassuring voice and the happy ending we had wished for him.
It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell, yet it is still very sad and hard to let him go.
Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us.
In a life of good fortune, he valued above all the gracious gift of his wife, Nancy. During his career, Ronald Reagan passed through a thousand crowded places, but there was only one person, he said, who could make him lonely by just leaving the room.
America honors you, Nancy, for the loyalty and love you gave this man on a wonderful journey and to that journey's end.
Today, our whole nation grieves with you and your family. When the sun sets tonight off the coast of California and we lay to rest our 40th president, a great American story will close.
The second son of Nell and Jack Reagan first knew the world as a place of open plains, quiet streets, gas-lit rooms and carriages drawn by horse.
If you could go back to the Dixon, Illinois, of 1922, you'd find a boy of 11 reading adventure stories at the public library or running with his brother Neil along Rock River, and coming home to a little house on Hennepin Avenue.
That town was the kind of place he remembered where you prayed side by side with your neighbors. And if things were going wrong for them, you prayed for them and knew they'd pray for you if things went wrong for you.
The Reagan family would see its share of hardship, struggle and uncertainty.
And out of that circumstance came a young man of steadiness, calm and a cheerful confidence that life would bring good things.
The qualities all of us have seen in Ronald Reagan were first spotted 70 and 80 years ago. As the lifeguard in Lowell Park, he was the protector, keeping an eye out for trouble.
As a sports announcer on the radio, he was the friendly voice that made you see the game as he did.
As an actor he was the handsome all-American good guy, which in his case required knowing his lines and being himself.
Along the way certain convictions were formed and fixed in the man.
Ronald Reagan believed that everything happens for a reason and that we should strive to know and do the will of God. He believed that the gentleman always does the kindest thing. He believed that people were basically good and had the right to be free. He believed that bigotry and prejudice were the worst things a person could be guilty of. He believed in the golden rule and in the power of prayer. He believed that America was not just a place in the world, but the hope of the world.
And he believed in taking a break now and then, because, as we said, there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.
Ronald Reagan spent decades in the film industry and in politics, fields known on occasion to change a man. But not this man. From Dixon to Des Moines to Hollywood to Sacramento to Washington, D.C., all who met him remembered the same sincere, honest, upright fellow.
Ronald Reagan's deepest beliefs never had much to do with fashion or convenience. His convictions were always politely stated, affably argued, and as firm and straight as the columns of this cathedral.
There came a point in Ronald Reagan's film career when people started seeing a future beyond the movies. The actor Robert Cummings recalled one occasion.
"I was sitting around the set with all these people and we were listening to Ronnie, quite absorbed. I said, 'Ron, have you ever considered some day becoming president?'
"He said, 'President of what?'
"'President of the United States,' I said.
"And he said, 'What's the matter? Don't you like my acting either?'"
The clarity and intensity of Ronald Reagan's convictions led to speaking engagements around the country, and a new following he did not seek or expect.
He often began his speeches by saying, "I'm going to talk about controversial things." And then he spoke of communist rulers as slave masters, of a government in Washington that had far overstepped its proper limits, of a time for choosing that was drawing near.
In the space of a few years, he took ideas and principles that were mainly found in journals and books and turned them into a broad, hopeful movement ready to govern.
As soon as Ronald Reagan became California's governor, observers saw a star in the west, tanned, well-tailored, in command and on his way. In the 1960s his friend Bill Buckley wrote, "Reagan is indisputably a part of America and he may become a part of American history."
Ronald Reagan's moment arrived in 1980. He came out ahead of some very good men, including one from Plains and one from Houston. What followed was one of the decisive decades of the century as the convictions that shaped the president began to shape the times.
He came to office with great hopes for America. And more than hopes. Like the president he had revered and once saw in person, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan matched an optimistic temperament with bold, persistent action.
President Reagan was optimistic about the great promise of economic reform, and he acted to restore the rewards and spirit of enterprise. He was optimistic that a strong America could advance the peace, and he acted to build the strength that mission required.
He was optimistic that liberty would thrive wherever it was planted, and he acted to defend liberty wherever it was threatened.
And Ronald Reagan believed in the power of truth in the conduct of world affairs. When he saw evil camped across the horizon he called that evil by its name.
There were no doubters in the prisons and gulags, where dissidents spread the news, tapping to each other in code what the American president had dared to say. There were no doubters in the shipyards and churches and secret labor meetings where brave men and women began to hear the creaking and rumbling of a collapsing empire. And there were no doubters among those who swung hammers at the hated wall that the first and hardest blow had been struck by President Ronald Reagan.
The ideology he opposed throughout his political life insisted that history was moved by impersonal tides and unalterable fates. Ronald Reagan believed instead in the courage and triumph of free men and we believe it all the more because we saw that courage in him.
As he showed what a president should be, he also showed us what a man should be.
Ronald Reagan carried himself, even in the most powerful office, with the decency and attention to small kindnesses that also define a good life.
He was a courtly, gentle and considerate man, never known to slight or embarrass others.
Many people across the country cherish letters he wrote in his own hand to family members on important occasions, to old friends dealing with sickness and loss, to strangers with questions about his days in Hollywood.
A boy once wrote to him requesting federal assistance to help clean up his bedroom.
The president replied that, "Unfortunately, funds are dangerously low."
He continued, "I'm sure your mother was fully justified in proclaiming your room a disaster...
"... therefore you are in an excellent position to launch another volunteer program in our nation.
See, our 40th president wore his title lightly, and it fit like a white Stetson.
In the end, through his belief in our country and his love for our country, he became an enduring symbol of our country.
We think of the steady stride, that tilt of the head and snap of the salute, the big screen smile, and the glint in his Irish eyes when a story came to mind.
We think of a man advancing in years with the sweetness and sincerity of a scout saying the pledge. We think of that grave expression that sometimes came over his face, the seriousness of a man angered by injustice and frightened by nothing.
We know, as he always said, that America's best days are ahead of us. But with Ronald Reagan's passing, some very fine days are behind us. And that is worth our tears.
Americans saw death approach Ronald Reagan twice in a moment of violence and then in the years of departing light. He met both with courage and grace. In these trials, he showed how a man so enchanted by life can be at peace with life's end.
And where does that strength come from? Where is that courage learned? It is the faith of a boy who read the Bible with his mom. It is the faith of a man lying in an operating room who prayed for the one who shot him before he prayed for himself. It is the faith of a man with a fearful illness who waited on the Lord to call him home.
Now death has done all that death can do, and as Ronald Wilson Reagan goes his way, we are left with the joyful hope he shared.
In his last years he saw through a glass darkly. Now he sees his savior face to face.
And we look for that fine day when we will see him again, all weariness gone, clear of mind, strong and sure and smiling again, and the sorrow of this parting gone forever.
May God bless Ronald Reagan and the country he loved.
CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew, "Jesus said, 'You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven."
The Gospel of the Lord.
DANFORTH: May I speak in the name of one god, who created us, who redeemed us, who comforts us. Amen.
This is a service about Ronald Reagan, and it is a religious service. We've gathered to celebrate the life of a great president in a church where believers profess their faith. So this is not only about a person, but about faith. And the homily is the place to connect the two.
For President Reagan, the text is obviously. It's from the Sermon on the Mount. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid."
It was his favorite theme, from his first inaugural address to his final address from the Oval Office. For him, America was the shining city on a hill.
His immediate source was the sermon preached by John Winthrop just read by Justice O'Connor.
Winthrop believed that the eyes of the world would be on America because God had given us a special commission, so it was our duty to shine forth. The Winthrop message became the Reagan message. It rang of optimism, and we longed to hear it, especially after the dark years of Vietnam and Watergate.
It was a vision with policy implications. America could not hide its light under a bushel. It could not turn in on itself and hunker down. Isolationism was not an option; neither was protectionism. We must champion freedom everywhere. We must be the beacon for the world.
What Ronald Reagan asked of America, he gave of himself. The great American theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote, "The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness." If ever we have known a child of light, it was Ronald Reagan. He was aglow with it. He had no dark side, no scary, hidden agenda. What you saw, was what you got. And what you saw was that sure sign of inner light, the twinkle in the eye.
He was not consumed by himself. He didn't need to be president to be a complete person. The only thing he really needed was to be with his wife.
Mrs. Reagan, you shared him with us, and for that we will always be grateful.
He shined the light, but not upon himself.
Personally modest, he disclaimed the title the great communicator, and claimed only to communicate great things from the heart of a great nation.
He liked to laugh, especially at himself.
There was nothing petty or mean-spirited about him. Even his opponents liked him.
I recall sitting at a table with President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill listening to their jokes. It was the opposite of negative politics.
He inspired devotion more than fear.
Mike Deaver wrote, "There was something about him that made you want to please him and do your best. This applied to everybody." It certainly applied to those of us who served in Congress.
His most challenging test came on the day he was shot. He wrote in his diary of struggling for breath and of praying.
"I realized that I couldn't ask for God's help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed-up young man who shot me," he wrote. "Isn't that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God's children and therefore equally loved by him. So I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold."
He was a child of light.
Now consider the faith we profess in this church. Light shining in darkness is an ancient biblical theme. Genesis tells us that in the beginning, darkness was upon the face of the deep. Some equate this darkness with chaos.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.
Creating light in darkness is God's work.
You and I know the meaning of darkness. We see it on the evening news: terror, chaos, war.
An enduring image of 9/11 is that on a brilliantly clear day a cloud of darkness covered Lower Manhattan.
Darkness is real and it can be terrifying. Sometimes it seems to be everywhere. So the question for us is what do we do when darkness surrounds us?
St. Paul answered that question. He said we must walk as children of light. President Reagan taught us that this is our mission, both as individuals and as a nation.
The faith proclaimed in this church is that when we walk as children of light, darkness cannot prevail. As St. John's gospel tells us, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
That's true even of death. For people of faith, death is no less awful than for anyone else, but the resurrection means that death is not the end.
The Bible describes the most terrible moment in these words: "When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until in the afternoon." That was the darkness of Good Friday. It did not prevail. Very early on the first day of the week when the sun had risen, that's the beginning of the Easter story.
The light shines; the Lord is risen. In this service of worship, we celebrate the life of a great president and we profess the resurrection faith of this church. It is faith in God's victory over darkness. It is faith in the ultimate triumph of light.
We believe in this victory every day of our lives. We believe it as individuals. We believe it as a nation.
There is no better time to celebrate the triumph of life than in a service for Ronald Reagan.
(RONAN TYNAN SINGING)
DANFORTH: Let us stand and say together the Lord's Prayer.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever.
THE REVEREND TED EASTMAN, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MARYLAND (RET).: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of thy son, Christ our lord, grant, we beseech thee, to thy whole church, in Paradise and on Earth, thy light and thy peace.
Grant that all who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection.
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage and who walk as yet by faith that thy holy spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Grant to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve thee with a quiet mind.
Grant to all who mourn a sure confidence in thy fatherly care, that casting all their grief on thee they may know the consolation of thy love.
Grant us with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection to have our consummation and bliss in thy eternal and everlasting glory and, with blessed Peter and Paul and all thy saints, to receive the crown of life which thou dost promise to all who share in the victory of thy son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one god forever and ever.
DANFORTH: Give rest, oh Christ, to thy servant with thy saints.
Thou only art immortal, the creator and maker of mankind. And we are mortal, formed of the earth, and unto earth shall we return. For so thou didst ordain when thou createst me saying, "Dust thou art and unto dust thou shall return."
All we go down to the dust. Yet even at the grave we make our song, "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah."
Into to thy hands, oh merciful savior, we commend thy servant Ronald. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace and into the glorious company of the saints in light.
CHANE: The god of peace, brought again from the dead our Lord, Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.
And on this day may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you forever.
EASTMAN: Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
ZAHN: What a beautiful service, touching eulogies, spectacular music -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That hearse now carrying the casket of President Ronald Reagan to the next stop. The next stop, of course, being Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, right outside Washington, D.C., where the flight will eventually take him and the family to the Presidential Library in California, for the burial, Jeff, at sunset tonight.
GREENFIELD: I think we heard all the right grace notes. We heard a touch of humor from former President George Herbert Walker Bush and former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney. We heard a reference to Reagan's stirring words. The reading from Sandra Day O'Connor, Ronald Reagan put her on the court as the first woman justice. The reference from the sermon by John Winthrop (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the "shining city on a hill."
And for me, at least, most movingly, were the really eloquent words of Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister who insisted on doing this, despite her frail health, it was done on tape. Illustrated with images from Reagan's most memorable moments, when she talked of him as the great liberator, she talked about his lightness of spirit. And I thought of all the grace notes, seeing this Cold War comrade of Ronald Reagan's, ailing though she was, come on like a champion, that, to me, was a particularly moving moment.
ZAHN: It took a lot of courage on her part, too. There were some other phrases she used that I think were touching. And I guess we should say all of the eulogies spoke to Ronald Reagan's optimism, and his belief in America, but she said at one point that the president sought to mend America's overworked spirit, and then she said what he succeeded in was the great cause of cheering us up.
BLITZER: I was particularly struck by the first President Bush, when he was speaking. He had been the vice president for eight year under Ronald Reagan. And as he himself had predicted only in the past few days, he thought he wouldn't necessarily be able to deliver this eulogy without getting choked up to some degree. And he clearly did. It was difficult at that one moment when he had to pause and collect his thoughts somewhat. Judy Woodruff, you were watching all of this, together with us, indeed, together with the entire world. What were you thinking?
WOODRUFF: Wolf, you know, I was just about to make exactly the same point, about the first President Bush. We call him Bush 41. He was -- you know, we haven't seen a lot of emotion this week. We have had time to prepare, to think about the death of Ronald Reagan. And so when George H.W. Bush, President Bush, the first President Bush, clearly choked up, and it was when he said: "I learned more from Ronald Reagan then from anyone else in public life."
And you have to remember, this was someone who was chosen to be Ronald Reagan's vice president across a political divide. They had not been necessarily allies. George Bush and Ronald Reagan were running against one another for president in 1980. And yet Ronald Reagan asked him to be his running mate. They weren't even good friends. You know, as I was talking to Lyn Nofziger, who was a longtime adviser to Ronald Reagan, but he reached out, he chose George W. Bush, mainly for political reasons. And yet during those eight years it's clear that there was a real bond that was established.
And then as you all have said, he went on to tell funny little stories about the sign that Reagan left outside the Oval Office saying "beware of the dog" for the squirrels, and talking about, you know, how did the meeting go with Bishop Tutu, and he said, so-so. I think I was more touched by President George H.W. Bush than anyone else. It was a very personal eulogy that he gave.
ZAHN: It's also interesting that -- and I guess we shouldn't be surprised, in each one of the eulogies, there was a reference made to Nancy Reagan, and the importance she played in his life. And it was Margaret Thatcher who talked about his public achievement being rooted in his personal happiness. And John Danforth talked about that, as well as Brian Mulroney.
GREENFIELD: And you shouldn't ignore President George W. Bush, who actually chose to talk about the biography of the man more, I think, than the politics. That may have surprised some of us who thought that he might in some subtle way want to link up to Ronald Reagan's politics, or philosophy. The greatest line from Bush, I want to just mention, his convictions were as strong and straight as the columns of this cathedral. Nice line.
BLITZER: Beautiful line, beautiful speech. John King, you watched as well, anything stand out in your mind of a surprising note that the president said?
KING: The president' speech, I think, was as aides said it would be, that he very much wanted to give the history of Ronald Reagan, and remind people this was a very ordinary American who, the president said, rose to do quite extraordinary things and reshape a country and the world.
Also struck, as we watch the faces coming out of here, and Jack Danforth, Senator and Reverend Danforth, touched on this, of the generational passing here. Ronald Reagan was president at a time of hugely partisan fights over things like his tax cuts, like the "star wars" program, and the military build-up, his standing up to the evil empire.
But those partisan politics were conducted in a much more civil way. You had Tip O'Neill as the speaker of the House. You had the Howard Bakers and the Bob Doles and the Bob Michaels on the Republican side in the Congress. At the end of the day, after these madly partisan fights, they would have a drink and a laugh and sometimes a song. That is very much missing from Washington these days.
BLITZER: Mike Wallace, the veteran CBS News reporter from "60 Minutes" among the journalists who are attending. This was our own Bob Novak just walk out a few moments ago himself. Journalists, dignitaries, members of Congress, the military, representatives from around the world have come to Washington, D.C. to pay tribute to Ronald Reagan. Candy Crowley is already out at the Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California.
The next leg will happen there at sunset, California time, Candy, when the president will be buried.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. This is, again, all according to the wishes of the president. He will be buried in a sunset ceremony at his library in Simi Valley, just outside Los Angeles. It's going to shift a little bit. Those who have put together this particular portion of the week-long tributes to Ronald Reagan, say that this is the one that they believe will pull at the heart strings, perhaps because first this will be a smaller crowd, not a small crowd, still about 600 people, but it will be a more intimate service.
There will be a solo bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace." We look at the list of those that they expect to come, a partial list of it. It includes some of those you see here, but mostly, this is a West Coast list and, in part, a Hollywood list.
And you will hear some names from old Hollywood. Mr. and Mrs. Kirk Douglas, Mr. and Mrs. Charlton Heston, Mrs. Bob Hope, Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Lasorda, of course, of baseball fame, Norman Lear; also, some old Reagan friends, Mrs. Annenberg, Mrs. Bloomingdale, their husbands all playing a vital part in the early career of Ronald Reagan. Merv Griffin who was in this Washington ceremony as well. You'll also see some California politicians out here, including the new governor out here, Arnold Schwarzenegger, his wife, Maria Shriver.
Along with that, there will be other governors, Mr. and Mrs. Pete Wilson, along with the honorable Richard Riordan, as you know, former mayor of Los Angeles. Back to Hollywood, Pat Sajak, Tom Selleck, the Sinatra family. So a different mix of groups.
We should also mention, getting back to the special relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. She is going to board that plane with Mrs. Reagan and come here for this sunset service. So this is of course the final good-bye for Ronald Reagan.
Paula talking earlier about how this is supposed to be an especially hard day for Mrs. Reagan, because of course, this really is the time when the official burial will take place here at the Reagan Library -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Candy. I want to show our viewers some other pictures from around the country now. Bells will be tolling now around the United States for some time, in memory of the former president of the United States. You're looking at these pictures from New York City. But we'll be seeing similar bells being heard around the United States.
This is a well-coordinated moment that is part of this state funeral here in the United States. You're looking now at churches.-- at a church in Milwaukee, where these bells will be heard as well. It's part of the symbolic, but significant, moment that all Americans cherish in trying to understand the former president's legacy right now, any president's legacy, the historic moment that we're experiencing.
ZAHN: It is not surprising to me that we've seen Americans watch the coverage of the president's body traveling from California, and then lying in state in the Rotunda. And tremendous interest in the state funeral today. Let's listen to the pealing of bells across the country.
BLITZER: These bells are ringing now not only here in Washington, D.C., but around the United States, in memory of Ronald Reagan. These bells, a symbolic gesture, part of this carefully scripted state funeral.
ZAHN: To give you an idea of what you're going to see if you're with us over the next hour-and-a-half or so, we will at some point be able to show you pictures of the motorcade moving towards Andrews Air Force Base where we will share with you the ceremony that will be held there. Obviously, a much dialed-back version of what we saw here at the cathedral.
And then later on, when we will watch the plane take off with the president's body, and later on this evening, Wolf and I will be back here at the time the plane lands in California and the body is transferred from Point Mugu to the Presidential Library site in Simi Valley.
BLITZER: Those are the two next major moments, the arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington, D.C. and Maryland, and then the flight clearly to Point Mugu, the Naval Air Station in California, not far from the Presidential Library where the final interment will of course occur.
CNN's Tom Foreman was inside the National Cathedral, watching all of this unfold, had a good seat inside there. Give us a little bit of the flavor, Tom, what you experienced.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I've been in the news business for 27 years. And I must say, I've never really experienced anything quite like this. And I guess we have to remember that half of America is not old enough to have seen a presidential funeral like this before.
The feeling inside this room, as you watch these world leaders from everywhere, something no camera shot can take in. You looked out and you saw the former presidents, you saw the world leaders who had come from all over, both past and present. The sense that this truly was an event that was far beyond the limits of Washington, beyond the limits of America, and truly involved the globe, was very much upon you throughout this service.
Joined with that, the personal loss. You saw the family there. You saw people who clearly were his friends, not just his colleagues. It gave you a tremendous sense of the weight of a nation, really, and the mourning of a nation at a time like this. It's really quite unprecedented, in my experience, at least.
BLITZER: Did you get a sense, Tom, that inside, a lot of people were choked up, emotional, crying, or were they as stoic, at least from the wide shots that we saw, as it appeared to be?
FOREMAN: I would say that there was one particular moment in this entire gathering here, in the entire service, when President George Bush, the senior, obviously struggled a bit with his emotions over it. I had the feeling that the whole audience for a moment was poised on the edge there because I think a lot of people had their emotions just below the surface. And that was the moment when they all came forward.
He, of course, enormously fond of Ronald Reagan. I visited with him last year at some length. And he said, in private, exactly the same things he says in public. That he had enormous respect for Ronald Reagan, he liked him as an individual, he liked him as a man. They didn't always agree on everything. We knew that from their campaigns. We knew that from the styles of their presidency. And yet tremendous personal respect.
And as you looked out over this audience, you were aware of how many people from around the world shared some sort of relationship like that with him. Interestingly enough, there were little moments which, again, I'm sure no camera could have caught but they were fascinating to watch.
At the end, as President Bush -- current President Bush, left, he stopped briefly to talk to President Clinton for just a moment or two. And then on the way out, he stopped and visited with a few of the other world leaders. And you had the sense of the community of leadership, not just in this nation, but around the world.
And it was interesting because so many people spoke about how Ronald Reagan, even though he had very strong enemies, fostered this sense, in person, of, we can disagree, but we can still treat each other civilly, we can be gentlemen and women and we can deal with each other fairly. You had the sense that many people here today, from different sides of the aisle and different political perspectives, wanted to pay homage to that in their dealings with each other at this time.
ZAHN: And I think President Bush, the father, made a very direct reference to that when he talked about the cruelty of life in politics, and how somehow President Reagan always found civility in a moment. Tom, we also saw, as the ceremony got underway, President Ford putting his hand on President Clinton's shoulders. You mentioned some of the other moments you saw as people were exiting. Is there anything else you would like to share with us that the camera might not have caught?
FOREMAN: Well, I think some of it actually happened before the service. It was really fascinating to watch some of the giants of American politics walking into the audience, greeting each other as old friends, people who they had done great battle with many years ago. You would see these people mixing it up, saying hello. I can't even begin to name all the people that we saw here.
You know, from Bob Dole to Al Gore to Mr. Gorbachev to all of these people, and to see them with each other, to see them in community, I think this is something that we very, very often miss as a television audience out in the world because usually what we see are the news stories, where they're going at loggerheads with each other.
But the reference in the service to President Reagan and Tip O'Neill sharing time together, to President Reagan and so many other people sharing these moments together, when the day was done, I remember last year, I visited with all the ex-presidents except for Mr. Clinton last year, all of them said the same thing. They said, when the day was done, with Ronald Reagan, he wanted to say to everybody in the room, the day is done, we are now civil people and we should behave as such with each other.
That's something that, again, a lot of news viewer don't really get to see all the time. But when you're at a gathering like this, you're aware of the enormous respect and friendship that exists between many, many people in this country who at any moment, you would think, can hardly speak to each other.
ZAHN: This reminds me what we experienced at the dedication of the World War II Memorial just a couple weeks ago when people were surprised to see how affectionate President Clinton was with the man he beat, George Herbert Walker Bush, a real fraternity.
BLITZER: It certainly is a moment, it's rare fraternity, the former presidents of the United States, they develop that kind of relationship. Professor Robert Dallek is with us as well, the eminent presidential historian.
Professor Dallek, this service, in historic perspectives, what does it mean?
ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Wolf, I also found the sense of shared values, as Judy said before, the pomp and circumstance, the pageantry, it's an American moment. I was also very taken with John Danforth's eulogy, full of the religious imagery which is such a part of great American political oratory, going back to Abraham Lincoln and William Jennings Bryan, the famous "cross of gold" speech at the Democratic convention in 1896.
There were so many striking historical notes, I think, in this day's pageantry, as I said. And it's a day to remember and we've had so much in the way of acrimonious politics, and this was a moment of shared values. And Danforth spoke about that, how Ronald Reagan came to office after Vietnam and Watergate, those terrible events of the 1960s and '70s, which tore the country asunder.
And then it had a sense of uplift once again. I don't want to be too romantic about it, but there was a kind of bright light and a kind of sunshine that entered into the country's politics and current events. I'm afraid we're back to that kind of divide and -- I'm afraid that a week from now, we're going to be seeing the same kind of divisive politics that we've experienced in recent years. And so this moment will -- this day will stand out all the more forcefully in people's minds.
GREENFIELD: It strikes me also that even though this is a ceremony of mourning, there is really something to be grateful for, which is that we have a life lived in full. There are so many moments at the National Cathedral.
This is where the memorial service was held for the victims of the September 11 attacks, one of the worst moments in American history. The service for John Kennedy, at a Catholic Church here in Washington, was a service held in the midst of an unbelievable trauma, that a 46-year-old -- or 47-year-old man had been murdered in cold blood.
Then we have seen ceremonies for Martin Luther King, dead at 38, and Robert Kennedy, dead at 43, and the Oklahoma City victims. It is appropriate to call this a celebration of a life, a man who lived to his 93rd year and accomplished everything he could have done as a mortal human being in his life. That's another reason to look on this day. It's a little dreary outside but there's a sunny cast to this.
BLITZER: Is the weather, Judy Woodruff, outside, improving a little bit now?
WOODRUFF: Wolf, it is. We are back on the roof of the eight- storey, nine-storey building we were on before. And it really did get wet as this service was getting underway. You could see that because Mrs. Reagan was with an umbrella as she not only left the Capitol but entered the Cathedral. There is a little mist now but by and large the rain has stopped for a while. It is darkly overcast. But the wind has picked up. There's a chill in the air.
And, Wolf, if I could just add one point, pick up on what Jeff and Bob Dallek have been saying. We are celebrating a life lived in full. And I know -- you know, none of us wants to overdo this point about unity and coming together, because, you know, in a few days they'll be back at it. But I do think you get a sense at a time like this, it's almost as if there's a hunger, a thirst for unity, for togetherness.
And even if it only lasts for a few hours, or maybe a couple of days, I think Americans long for there to be some bridging of this cavernous gap that has grown between the two political parties. At one point, the first President Bush said -- speaking of Ronald Reagan, he said he was never negative towards his adversaries. He said he was never mean-spirited. And in a way, I took that as a contrast to the politics of today. When you do see mean spirits, you do see negativity. And sometimes I think the American people think it's overboard.
BLITZER: I think that's a fair point. Paula, the service was a religious service, an Episcopalian service. There is no doubt about that. But it went so much further than any specific religious -- specific religion, if you will. It was a service that I think all Americans could appreciate.
ZAHN: And that was very carefully calculated with Rabbi Kushner speaking at the beginning of the ceremony, and many religious leaders of different faiths represented today. I want to follow up on a point that Judy was making because it's a point that we keep on hearing surfacing in interviews with people who waited sometimes 12 hours, lined up in the Rotunda to pay their respects to the president's body.
It wasn't so much did they talk about bridging the gap between Democrats and Republicans, it was the sense that they were depleted, coming out of the horror of 9/11, and wanting to share some sort of national experience here, and not out of grieving so much, but celebration of a life.
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff has got a -- has a special guest with her right now, someone who was inside the National Cathedral -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Wolf, joining us at the Cathedral, I'm actually a couple blocks away from there, but our very dear friend and former colleague Bernard Shaw is with us.
Bernie, you were inside. Tell us your impressions. You were there in the middle of it.
BERNARD SHAW, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Well, Judy, Wolf, and Paula, the only two words I can use to describe what happened inside this glorious cathedral are "American majestic." American majestic. That's what I thought as I looked at the vaulted ceilings. That's what I thought as the program unfolded. That's what I thought as the program unfolded. That's what I thought as I saw Nancy Reagan come past me as she walked past others in the pews. And she looked at people. She looked down at the marble floor. That's what I thought when Michael, the son, took time to nod, to say hello to people.
I was struck by George Herbert Walker Bush. Most of you know this man does not like to show emotion publicly. And when he choked on the words that he was trying to deliver -- and, indeed, did deliver -- that just underscored for me how much he felt and how much he meant what he was saying in tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan.
WOODRUFF: Bernie, you -- you've been in this town. You've covered Washington for a long time. We've all been remarking on just -- you know, what it means to have these people come together who normally are political adversaries.
To me, that was part of the beauty and the strength of this service today. That it was international; it crossed partisan boundaries. It -- it was ecumenical in a religious and political sense.
Absolutely. There was national unity in this great cathedral behind me today, national unity across all spectra.
Just two personal observations. I can understand why former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's doctor did not want her to speak publicly. I thought that her remarks in videotape were just brilliant and moving.
But as she walked past me, she was moving very, very slowly, in a very determined way, to get up the aisle to come out these great doors. And you could see that Lady Thatcher, indeed, is very infirm.
A personal desire probably, an expression of the thoughts of all people who have followed what has happened to the Reagan family. I just hope that when the sunset burial ends out in California later today that Nancy Reagan can go home, close her door, turn off the telephone, and get some rest.
BLITZER: Bernie, that's a good thought. Tell our viewers, Bernie, why this was so important for you personally to attend this memorial service, this funeral today, at the National Cathedral.
SHAW: Nancy Reagan invited me and Linda to be here. How could we not come? How could we not come?
BLITZER: I was going to say, Bernie, you covered that whole eight years of the Reagan administration. You lived through it. You remember virtually all of those details. Did they come back in your mind as you were attending this service in the cathedral?
SHAW: Oh, Wolf, you are really touching a nerve now. The invitation from the Reagans to join them at the family theater at the White House to watch the president's favorite movie, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," starring James Cagney, and Reagan liked Jimmy Cagney in that movie because it showed that -- James Cagney wasn't just a hoofer, that he, indeed, was an actor. Another point was -- I remember interviewing President Reagan as he was leaving the White House, and Mrs. Reagan, in separate, back to back interviews. You might have recalled, they were each 15 minutes apiece.
And afterwards, she said, "You and Linda have got to come out to visit us in Bel Air." We did.
Well, it was just for coffee and tea. And Mrs. Reagan: "What would you like, Bernie?"
I said, "Decaf coffee." And a tray appeared with decaf coffee.
The president asked Linda, and she said a glass of water, a glass of cold water. He left us, and then two minutes later, here comes the 40th president of the United States back into the living room, a white linen napkin in one hand, a glass of cold water in the left hand.
He puts down the napkin, puts down the glass, "There you are."
And we sat talking for about 40 minutes. And then they took us on a tour of the house. And we walked into the president's study. And he said, "This is where I do a lot of reading and writing."
And Nancy Reagan said, "This is where we watch you every day on 'INSIDE POLITICS'."
You know how he cocks his head aside and just smiles? He just nodded like that.
Those kind of memories came to mind just nonstop inside the cathedral, Wolf.
GREENFIELD: Bernie, it's Jeff Greenfield.
SHAW: Hi, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: I want to take you back to a more public memory. Hi, Bernie.
January 20, 1981. As the Reagan administration literally is coming into power, you're covering it. I was at another network covering it. The hostages are free.
I mean, can you think of a more sunny way to begin a presidential administration than that first moment of the Reagan administration?
SHAW: Oh, you're quite right, Jeff. The symbolism was just almost overpowering.
Because you recall that the networks used a quad split. The screen was split in quarters. And you see these Americans finally free after 444 days. You see what's going on with President Reagan.
And I remember, you recall, he himself indicated that "You should release our people," talking to the Iranians, "because you won't get a better deal on my watch."
ZAHN: Bernie, I was struck by some of what George Herbert Walker Bush had to say about Ronald Reagan after that failed assassination attempt.
And he was talking about his sunny disposition and how it didn't surprise him when hospitalized he made a quip about hoping that all of the doctors were Republican, not Democrats.
Take us back to that period of time and what you witnessed as you covered him. A much quicker recovery than a lot of people had anticipated.
SHAW: Paula, do you mean about the actual day of the assassination attempt?
ZAHN: Later, when he came back to the White House and resumed a full work schedule.
SHAW: Well, that spoke to the man's physicality. I don't like that word, but sports people use it quite a bit, or his athleticism.
He was a very, very strong man physically. And of course, we know constitutionally. And that helped him immensely. But don't forget that one of the reasons he sprang back so quickly was Nancy Reagan.
You remember how she kept -- she literally kept people at bay. She really guarded the palace doors to ensure that her husband could recover as speedily as possible.
Wolf had asked me a question about memories. I remember there was a background luncheon with the president and with his then chief of staff, Donald Regan at his right side. And this was -- Jeff Greenfield, this was during the height of the Iran-Contra affair.
And at one point, I looked across the table and I said, "Mr. President, when are you going to speak to the American people about this scandal? The American people have not heard from you. They need to hear from you."
And the president looked me in the eye and he was about -- his mouth opened. He was going to respond to my question. And before he could speak, the chief of staff, Donald Regan, said, "We will respond at the appropriate time."
Well, the president looked at Regan, looked at me, and looked back at Donald Regan, said, "Schedule it for Thursday."
And that's an instance of this man not being at the other end of his staff's strings. It was clear that the commander in chief, the president, had made a decision.
And Donald Regan: "Oh, yes, I forgot." Donald Regan looked at the president and said, "OK, Mr. President."
And you recall, he actually had that news conference on a Wednesday.
GREENFIELD: Bernie, that's a wonderful story, because there was an impression among some people that Reagan was the kind of the puppet of the staff.
You probably remember, I do -- back in 1980, on the day of the New Hampshire primary. Critical primary. He'd lost the Iowa caucuses.
Before anyone knew the results, Reagan fired his top three campaign aides, because he felt they were -- they were too intrusive and put back the old team he had. And that was one of the boldest strokes I can ever remember in the midst a presidential campaign. And that came right from Ronald Reagan.
ZAHN: Interesting how many stories we are hearing now that might change the public's perception of President Reagan's engagement in policy.
I remember his budget director, David Stockman, was telling us this wonderful story about how he had come out of a particularly contentious meeting on taxes. And he had the key Democratic negotiator standing in the Rose Garden.
This was at a time when air space was not limited, nor restricted in any way. So he had the constant hovering of planes overhead, and reporters were trying to shout questions.
And while that was going on, the chief of staff was trying to distract reporters.
Meanwhile, Reagan moves with the key Democrat. They stand by the tree until one more plane passes over.
They come back and announce that they had broken their impasse and they were going to have a meeting on Friday.
SHAW: Can I say something that touches on a very sensitive issue?
BLITZER: Of course.
SHAW: The news media and how we failed to thoroughly cover and communicate the very essences we're talking about possessed by Ronald Reagan.
What I've been reading and what I've been hearing I did not get during his two terms in office, or did I miss something?
BLITZER: I think you're on to something, Bernie.
SHAW: I think we failed our viewers, listeners, and readers to an appreciable extent. I can't quantify it, but I'll put it there. Because I certainly missed a lot.
BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right, Bernie. We've learned a lot more about this presidency in the years that have followed Ronald Reagan's two terms in office.
And I suspect, as more of his diaries, more of his papers, more of his speeches, more information is released by the presidential library in Simi Valley, we'll learn even a great deal more.
I want to bring Judy back into this conversation, Bernie, because I know that she has some questions she wants -- she has some thoughts she wants to share with our viewers, as well.
WOODRUFF: Yes. I just wanted to add, Wolf, what Bernie says, I mean, I think triggers a reaction in all of us.
I do think there is new material coming out now about Ronald Reagan. You know, with the distance of years, we have the ability to go back and talk to people, to read, to get information, that we sometimes don't get in the hurly burly.
And clearly, some of it, too, is when someone passes, when there is a death, I think there is a respect -- there's a respectful distance.
I mean, I've heard a few people say in the last days, "Well, the media's going overboard with this, you know. Why spend seven days remembering Ronald Reagan?"
In fact, it's entirely appropriate to go and to appreciate what this man meant to this country, what he meant to the world, and the news media is a very big part of that. I think what's going on now is entirely appropriate.
And I'm sitting here with Bob Dalic, the historian who's written about Ronald Reagan. Bob, you wanted to jump in on this point as well.
BOB DALIC, HISTORIAN: I think Bernie's point, and Wolf's point is right on the mark.
You know, history is going to be -- or historians and biographers are going to be writing about Ronald Reagan for years to come. A hundred years from now, they're going to be finding fresh things to say, believe it or not.
By then, the papers will be open. They'll be open probably in the next 15, 20 years. But perspectives always change.
And he is a major political figure in American political history. He's one of only 12 presidents of the 43 now who served eight years in office. Roosevelt, of course, served 12. But that gives him a kind of importance and distinction that will not be forgotten.
WOODRUFF: And I think there's no question, Wolf, and Bernie, as I come back to you, I mean, there's no question, at a moment like this, we do put a gloss on someone's life. We are naturally focusing on the positive, and on the pluses.
It wasn't all positive. It wasn't all pluses. Clearly, there were mistakes. There were missteps. But this is not a time to focus on that.
BLITZER: I want to just bring our viewers, Bernie, up to date on what we're seeing right now. These are live pictures we're seeing from Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C. People have come to Andrews to say good-bye to the president of the United States.
The hearse, the motorcade, bringing the casket of Ronald Reagan from the National Cathedral in Washington, out to Andrews Air Force Base, is on the way now. It should be arriving very, very soon, Paula.
There will be another ceremony, a brief ceremony, at Andrews Air Force Base, once the motorcade arrives. The casket will be taken out of the hearse, and it will be escorted aboard this presidential aircraft that will take the casket and the family and invited guests back to California.
ZAHN: And our understanding is about 3,000 people have been invited to attend this ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. Some of these people actually watched the ceremony from the cathedral on big screen TVs in a hangar, not far from where you see these people lined up along the fence.
GREENFIELD: I'll make everybody here a quick bet. We saw pictures -- we're seeing pictures now of kids, 7, 8, 9, 10. I don't think I'll be around to see it. But I have a feeling when those kids are grandchildren -- or grandparents, they will tell their grandchildren perhaps more than the grandchildren want to hear, about the day they saw part of the ceremonies honoring Ronald Reagan. This is the sort of thing that people do remember for generations.
ZAHN: Sure, and that's still -- a lot of people have told us who lined up for many hours at the rotunda. They came to witness a piece of history.
BLITZER: And there will be full honors at this Andrews Air Force Base ceremony, including another 21-gun salute; an Air Force band will play the spiritual "Going Home."
Bernie Shaw, as you look at this all of this, all of this remarkable coverage that we're giving to this 40th president of the United States since he passed away last Saturday around 1 p.m. Pacific time, are we going overboard?
SHAW: Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely not. For all the reasons that each of you has ticked off over the past couple days. I think it -- it is very much in perspective.
For me, personally, Wolf, you began -- when I first came on -- asking me what I felt inside the National Cathedral. When the president's coffin entered National Cathedral, I and everybody else, as it passed and as Mrs. Reagan passed us, placed a hand over my heart.
But when the coffin was being brought by the honor guard up the aisle to go past, the old Marine in me, being a former Marine, came over me, and I saluted. My hand just went up. It's as if it had a life all its own. My arm just went up. And I saluted it as he passed by.
But no, I don't think this coverage is overdone.
BLITZER: A lot of our viewers, of course, know Bernard Shaw as the great anchorman, the great journalist, the great reporter who spent so many years making CNN what it is today.
But they don't necessarily know, Bernie, that you are an ex- Marine. I guess you're never ex-Marine. You're always a Marine, no matter how many years it's been since you've worn the uniform. And they also don't know, Bernie, how sentimental and patriotic you can be.
Talk a little bit about that, as well.
SHAW: Well, as an American, and fellow Americans, we are blessed to have been born right here on this terra firma, this particular terra firma.
And I was just warmed by the words of Lady Thatcher, the former prime minister of Britain. And what she said, how she said it, as well as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, where they talked about the relationship with their country and the importance of what this nation did.
I remember anchoring from -- it was one of the -- Jeff and Wolf, you'll remember it, and you, too, Paula and Judy -- it was a Communist Party Congress in Moscow, was it '92 or something like that? Very important one.
And I remember I did about a four-minute piece in which I wrote to my son, Amar, and my daughter, Anil.
And I told them that, "Your good blessing is you were born a citizen of the United States of America. We have a great country. The true greatness about the United States is our ability to become greater. We are flawed, yes. And we have a history. Part of that history in which your people, my people, our people, were denigrated by slavery.
"But we are ever changing. The dynamic of the United States of America is mind-boggling, when you think of it. We renew ourselves by bringing people from all shores, speaking all tongues. That's the greatness of this country, our diversity."
And the phrase -- you know, sometimes, as an American, you can become jaded when you hear the phrase "God Bless America." But that's part of our culture.
ZAHN: I don't know, Bernie, I think after 9/11 we all listen to "God Bless America" in a -- through a completely different prism.
Bernie, I want to come back to an idea you -- that you shared with us a little bit earlier. I think Bob Dalic was making the point that Ronald Reagan was one of maybe a dozen or so presidents to have served -- been elected twice or to have served a full term.
And I'm sure that that has a tremendous impact on the amount of coverage this governs.
DALIC: I'm sorry, anticipating -- I'm sorry, Paula. One of the things that we do know about how presidents are ranked is if you don't win a second term, you don't get a high ranking.
There is no example in American history, maybe John Adams will be moving up after that wonderful book by David McCullough. But if you don't win the support of your own people for the second term, historians tend to give you a very passing attention. They just assume you weren't big enough.
ZAHN: Which brings me back to the issue of the proportion our coverage. When you hear people out there saying, "You guys are going nuts, too much wall to wall coverage, one wonders what will happen when we cover President Ford's funeral, President Carter's funeral, and President Clinton's.
SHAW: Well, I would -- I'd like to slip in here and piggyback on what Jeff was saying and also Professor Dalic.
Don't we determine the greatness of our presidents by how they handle adversity? What was Roosevelt facing? World war ii. What was George Washington facing? The very birth of our country. Ronald Reagan and the struggle with communism.
Doesn't it take crises and troubled times, huge magnitude, to take the occupant of the Oval Office and stand him alongside those things he dealt with?
ZAHN: There was a rather sick piece written in the paper last week suggesting that Bill Clinton, if you talked to friends of his, sort of thinks about what would have happened if a 9/11 had happened on his watch, how that would have affected his legacy.
GREENFIELD: The only president rated great or near great who presided in peaceful times was Teddy Roosevelt.
And Bernie makes a very valid point: if you're not facing a big deal, historians don't necessarily -- well, maybe we should let Professor Dalic tell us -- historians tend to look at great presidents because they grapple with great things.
DALIC: yes. If I may interject, I think there's no question about that.
You know, the one exception I would say is John F. Kennedy, because he was there for only 1,000 days, and yet it's extraordinary the continuing hold that he has on the public's imagination, 40 years after his assassination.
I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he was assassinated, and in a way, because he was the first television president. And he has a heroic quality, which is out of proportion to the fact that he was there for only 1,000 days.
But I think you're all quite right. Theodore Roosevelt said he couldn't be a truly great president, because he never had to lead the country through a war. And he was comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.
But it is, as Bernie says, it is great -- a great challenge that really helps to make a president great or at least near great, and I think -- historians would agree with that and the public I think certainly agrees with that, too.
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff, I wanted to get your thoughts on the decision -- I assume it was made by Ronald Reagan in part, while he was still alive, but certainly his wife, Nancy, had a tremendous impact in making the decision on the four eulogies that were delivered over at the National Cathedral today, the first President Bush, the second President Bush, Brian Mulroney, Margaret Thatcher, those four individuals, all of whom are so significant.
What did you -- What was your take on the decision-making process leading up to that important decision?
WOODRUFF: Wolf, it's -- the point I would make is -- and I think we've all thought about this -- is that Nancy Reagan is very aware of her husband's place in history and his place as an American among the American people.
She, I think, in particular, has been very sensitive to the -- every aspect of how these ceremonies would play out, from the very first day we learned of his death last Saturday, when the word went out in a very simple statement to that evening, when his body was taken in a hearse to the funeral home.
The next day, on Monday -- or rather, two days later, on Monday, when the body was taken to the library. Every step of the way, she's been very conscious of how it would appear to the American people. Very conscious of her husband's place.
And I think that is -- is absolutely the role -- or absolutely the reason she chose the four speakers she did: two world leaders who were not only close friends of the Reagans, but who were players on the world stage, if you will, when Ronald Reagan was president.
Of course, lady Thatcher, and we've all talked about that, as well as former Prime Minister Mulroney.
But then the current president, George W. Bush, and his father, who was Reagan's vice president. It was chosen, four special people in the life of Ronald Reagan, for different reasons.
And she very much wanted the sitting president to speak.
I just learned this morning that it wasn't until the funeral of Dwight Eisenhower that a sitting president spoke -- gave a eulogy at the funeral of a president. It was Richard Nixon.
Before that for whatever reasons, sitting presidents did not give eulogies. But today it seems like a perfectly normal and natural thing to happen.
SHAW: And to piggyback off what you just said, Judy, Dwight Eisenhower asked for Richard Milhouse Nixon to deliver the eulogy.
BLITZER: This is the scene -- This is the scene over at Andrews Air Force Base, where the military is getting ready to receive the motorcade, bringing the hearse, the casket, of President Reagan for the final journey, the last time he will fly from Washington, D.C., from Andrews Air Force Base, outside of Washington, back to California.
Literally, Professor Dalic, the final journey of this president.
DALIC: Yes. Well, I just wanted to pick up on the point Judy was making about Nancy Reagan.
You know, she's not the first first lady to have had a direct and substantial impact on the shape of a president's funeral. Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ladybird Johnson, they were all very instrumental in shaping just how those funerals would be arranged.
And so Nancy Reagan stands in the tradition of what other first ladies have done and, of course, they carry it off very impressively. Because it is an important moment in the life of the nation, how they take their leave from these various presidents.
ZAHN: One of the things I think is interesting to explore is when you look at the popularity of certain first ladies. And I think we could all agree here this afternoon, the amount of affection the American public has for Nancy Reagan now far exceeds the period of time when she was in the White House.
And I think an awful lot of that has to do with this long journey, as she watched her husband basically decline on this very, very slow track. And you couldn't help but be moved by looking at her face over the last five days and seeing a tremendous sense of loss.
A lot of her aides were saying, as recently as yesterday, it is still very difficult for her to let go. And you can understand why, even though she's had time to prepare.
GREENFIELD: And I think, also, you're looking over the space of ten years.
One of the things, I think, that an illness like Alzheimer's does, it just eliminates all of the political notions.
I mean, Nancy Reagan was a somewhat controversial first lady. You will remember that the ex-chief of staff, Donald Regan, who Bernie was talking about, after he was fired, wrote a book in which he said, among other thing, that the first lady consulted astrologers about the president's schedule. This was a bit of an embarrassment to the Reagan White House.
Now you're talking about a woman who's losing her husband of a lifetime, or most of a lifetime, to a disease that is so widely feared, Alzheimer's. And the grace with which she did that.
The fact, indeed, that she sort of stepped into the public arena a little bit with her argument about stem cell research has just turned her, I think, into a different kind of person than a first lady -- and by the way, almost every first lady is the subject of comments that are not always flattering.
People can be -- I'm not talking about politicians, I'm talking about media people. They, we, can sometimes be a little cruel about first ladies. They all -- Laura Bush may be an exception. But to a greater or lesser extent, they can be the subject of criticism.
I think what's happened to Nancy Reagan and to her husband over the last ten years has absolutely turned that completely around.
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff, I don't think there's any doubt that any of us, anybody in the world who has watched Nancy Reagan these past several days, can't help but emerge with so much great respect, if not love, for this former first lady of the United States.
SHAW: Well, Wolf, what Jeff was saying, caused me to remember the first avalanche of criticism.
You remember, the president's first European trip, after taking office? He had a NATO summit, and we went to Paris, and Nancy Reagan came out in the knickers outfit. Do you remember the storm of criticism that fell on her head?
By the way, that was the trip that the president's schedulers really blew it. They had this man -- we had -- we had -- what was it, Wolf? We had breakfast in Paris, lunch in Rome, where the president fell asleep on the pope, you'll recall, because he was so exhausted. Breakfast in Paris, lunch in Rome and dinner in London.
BLITZER: I remember those days, Bernie. And, in fact, probably remember a lot of the details of -- excuse me, a lot the details of that better than what I remember in more recent years.
Judy Woodruff, I want to bring you back, as well. I was -- I wanted your thoughts on the incredible behavior of Nancy Reagan these past few days.
WOODRUFF: I think she's been extraordinary, Wolf.
I've had the privilege of talking to Nancy Reagan on occasion and seeing her over the last few years in private circumstances and have always marveled at her strength, her ability, not just to protect her husband, but to -- to present a dignified face, if you will, to everyone about him. Because he has not been seen in public for so long.
I mean, she truly is someone to marvel at, and Paula was just referring to it a moment ago. It must be so hard for her to let go.
But if I can just add a word in defense of first ladies, you know, I've watched them in this city. I came to Washington during the Carter administration and watched Rosalynn Carter, then Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and so on. Of course, Hillary Clinton and now Laura Bush.
To me, first lady may be the toughest job there is. It's almost as if you can't do anything right in the beginning. And you have to figure it out, what -- what are the roles that's right for you that gets it right with the public and with yourself and with your husband and with the staff.
It's very tough, and every first lady has struggled with that, in one way or another. They've all -- they all find an equilibrium that is unique to their personalities, to their strengths, and to the time that they live in.
Hillary Clinton, a very different first lady from Barbara Bush or from Nancy Reagan. And yet it's no -- it is -- you know, it's very clear that the time Nancy Reagan left Washington, she was someone who had found her place, who had reached an equilibrium, if you will, and I think was -- was admired greatly by the American people.
BLITZER: The motorcade, Judy, has now arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, the final leg of this journey back to California.
We're going to watch, and wait for this motorcade to make its final journey here to Andrews Air Force Base. And then the president's casket will be taken from that hearse, put aboard that presidential Air Force plane, to make the final cross-country trip, about a 4 1/2-hour, 5-hour journey to California.
Ken Khachigian is a very close Ronald Reagan adviser and speechwriter. He's already out at the presidential library in Simi Valley. He's been watching all of this unfold, as well.
I know, Ken, you must have some personal thoughts about Ronald Reagan you'd like to share with our viewers.
KEN KHACHIGIAN, FORMER REAGAN SPEECHWRITER: Absolutely. It was just a crowning achievement of my young days when I joined the campaign in 1980 and rode that great adventure into the White House and started the Reagan revolution.
And now it's -- the Reagan revolution hasn't come to an end. Only he's just departed us, not in spirit, but just in body.
But I have to tell you, as you've already heard, it's a beautiful, sunny day out here. And the West is ready to greet their son back home.
BLITZER: Will you -- what should we anticipate at this final service in California at the presidential library? I know you know precisely what's going to unfold. KHACHIGIAN: Well, what it is, is this is the close friends and family and White House family of the president, his -- You're going to see a lot of his friends from his acting career. A lot of his associates that he knew out here who helped him begin his career. A number of us who were on the White House staff, and who participated, in his presidential campaigns over the years.
And this is mostly a family affair. We won't have as much pomp and circumstance. We'll just have the dignity and warmth of a family reunion, I would say.
BLITZER: Yes. Seeing, Ken, a picture on the tarmac, two men, honorary pallbearers, Charles Wick, a longtime friend of the Reagans, the former head of the USIA, the United States Information Agency.
And Merv Griffin, so close to Mrs. Reagan, so close to the late president. They'll be coming out to California, as well, to join in this final service.
Have you been surprised by the outpouring of affection for this president we've seen around the country, indeed, in much of the world over the past week?
KHACHIGIAN: No, not at all. Actually, because, he showed such strength and dignity through these last ten years of illness. And he left on such a high note.
You know, when we were in the White House, and we went through some controversial times, not everything was great, obviously. But he left with his head held up high.
And you have to remember that what he achieved, there's no Berlin Wall. There's freedom in Eastern Europe. Inflation that we came into is gone. The interest rates that we had at 18 percent are gone. A new spirit came out.
And I think people, as they see those clips on TV and hear his voice, that wonderful, warm, mellow voice of his, like a nice Hawaiian breeze, the way I used to describe it, bringing reminiscences of a wonderful time and a better day. And you know, America is just having a chance to pause and think about the things he did, the things he said and just what he represented.
So I'm not surprised at all, having known him, having worked with him. Sometimes we always felt like the rest of the world didn't know him like we did. And now they do.
ZAHN: Ken, Paula Zahn here. I wanted to ask you about the Reagan children.
ZAHN: Because there's been tremendous focus on them this week. And in particular through their writings.
Patti Davis, having done some television interviews in advance of her father's death, with the understanding that they wouldn't be aired until after he died.
Ron Reagan writing some, as well as even Nancy Reagan penning some pieces to be read in "TIME" magazine and "People" magazine.
Do you suspect, once these ceremonies are over on Friday, we will hear more from the Reagan children personally? And on television through interviews?
KHACHIGIAN: Well, it seems to me that this has been a cathartic effect on the kids. I think it's very hard.
I worked in the Nixon White House, as well, and -- and for first President Bush, and it's -- to see the children of presidents, and what they deal with as they go through -- we need to give them a lot of slack, very frankly. It's not as easy being a first kid as it is being the first family.
I'd like to hear more from the Reagan children. Because they have a great perspective through their upbringing on what their dad was like, and what their mom and dad's relationship was like.
But I also would think, we'll have to give them a little space to absorb all this. Look, it's hard enough when we lose a family member that -- but you can imagine how much more difficult that is to lose one who's been in the public eye and has become an international historic icon.
So -- But I agree with you, Paula. I think it would be good to hear from them more.
ZAHN: And is it your understanding, just through your personal dealings with the family, that the reconciliation that has been reached between the children and the father and mother has come as a result of this communal battle with Alzheimer's?
KHACHIGIAN: Well, you know what happens, as deaths occur to families, as all of us know, the family unit becomes smaller and smaller. And you know what? We start depending upon each other more as the family unit becomes smaller.
And so I think that whatever problems there may have been really ought to be looked at in hindsight. And that the difficulties that they had, they saw their mother go through in nurturing President Reagan through this period has got to help them understand, and give a real deep feeling of respect for what she did.
And also, now to see, in huge volumes, the effect of their father on the world. And all the wonderful things said about him. That can't help but bring them together.
GREENFIELD: Ken, it's Jeff Greenfield. And I want to bring you back into the political arena.
KHACHIGIAN: Hi, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Because you were a lawyer with Reagan -- how are you doing -- for decades.
I always thought that one of the great advantages Mr. Reagan and you all had was how consistently his adversaries underestimated him. From the first days when he won that California Republican primary in '66 and then Governor Pat Brown said, "Oh, goodie, we don't have to run against that moderate mayor."
Were you guys conscious at the time that you were working on behalf of a man whose adversaries never quite took him, you know, seriously enough?
KHACHIGIAN: Yes, very much so. And I think, frankly, it was an advantage on our part.
I've mentioned just a minute ago having worked in the Nixon White House. I became very close to President Nixon when he left office.
He was always telling me how the politician he feared most in the Republican Party when he was a candidate was Ronald Reagan. He never underestimated him. He saw the great strength in his communicating abilities, and he had respect for others.
But I can tell you firsthand that he said, "Look, Ronald Reagan has all the talents. I worried about him most in 1968," and again in '72 he worried about him.
So we were -- we always thought, in fact his staff underestimated him, Jeff. Back in 1984, when we prepared for that first debate with Walter Mondale, his staff over prepared him, frankly, because they didn't have enough confidence in his ability to do what we knew, what we should have known he could do.
And so you're right, it was an advantage.
And you know, you've seen a lot of politicians littered along the roadway who thought, whether it was Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale or Pat Brown and others in Republican primaries that this guy was terrific.
And, in fact, one of the things I've thought over the last few days that has not been sufficiently appreciated about President Reagan was what a great politician he was. And how skilled, not just in his rhetorical abilities, but he had fine-honed political instincts that I think really, you know, helped him ride his way right into the White House when he needed them.
ZAHN: Ken, thanks so much for your reflections.
We call your attention now back to the screen, as we see the ceremony about to get underway at Andrews Air Force Base.
Once the family arrives here, at this government plane, you will see the hearse, unloading the casket. You will see the pomp and six of a 21-gun salute. You'll see the U.S. Air Force band playing.
It is all, once again, very carefully calibrated. It will be a service that will be short, but very dignified.
BLITZER: And the band will play the appropriate tune, "Going Home" as we see Merv Griffin there, Charles Wick. Some of the honorary pallbearers awaiting the arrival of the motorcade.
We're told the motorcade has actually entered Andrews Air Force Base. But this is a large base, and it takes awhile to make its way up to the tarmac here.
If any of our viewers are curious, it's taken about a half an hour or so for this motorcade to leave the National Cathedral and make its way to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.
It goes a lot slower than normal, a normal motorcade. It's supposed to go 20 -- exactly 20 miles per hour. That's the tradition, the custom for these state funerals, for these motorcades.
But U.S. military personnel, Paula, have gathered, as well as -- look at this, young kids, and others, who want to see history unfold.
ZAHN: We should take a little bit about the plane that President Reagan will be going home in.
As I understand, it was the plane that was actually commissioned during his presidency but he never got to fly in. This is the same plane that Nancy Reagan flew from California to Washington, D.C., and will be heading back across the country with close family members, including Margaret Thatcher.
A lot of us were surprised that Margaret Thatcher would be making this long trip back to California. Her doctors have for many months not allowed her to do speeches, not allowed her to travel.
Her aides said this morning it was very important for Margaret Thatcher to take part in this. And it wasn't enough for her just to have recorded a eulogy months ago and have it played in the cathedral.
BLITZER: If we could get that shot of that Special Air Mission, SAM 28,000 -- that's what the plane is officially called.
I want to point out to our viewers that on the left-hand side of the screen you see the stairs that will take Mrs. Reagan and the official delegation up those stairs to the plane.
But on the other side, on the right-hand side of the screen you see a truck there. That's where the military color guard, the honor guard, will carry the casket, will place it inside that truck. That will be elevated, and then it will be brought into the belly, basically, of that United States Air Force plane.
John King, you've been to Andrews Air Force Base many times. You've been aboard Air Force One. This is technically not Air Force One, because a sitting president won't be aboard.
KING: That's right, Wolf. President Bush is in the air now, I believe, on the way to Crawford, Texas, on the duplicate of this plane, a near duplicate. The other 747. There are two in the presidential fleet, the VIP fleet which has its home at Andrews Air Force Base.
This one has the tail number 28,000. Therefore Special Air Mission 28,000, the call sign the pilot will use as he travels across the country on Ronald Reagan's last flight.
Two -- One of two 747s in the fleet. When Ronald Reagan was president, the plane he most often used as Air Force one. Any plane the president is on gets the designation Air Force One if it is an Air Force plane, Marine One a helicopter, Army One if it is an Army aircraft.
When President Reagan flew most often he was on an old Boeing 707. That dated back to the Kennedy and Johnson administration. Old and much more of a hulking plane. The president had an office, but it was much smaller, a small bed, much more modest.
President Reagan, I think, would very much enjoy the modern amenities on this 747s. The president has a good-sized office with a big desk. He has a study. He can sit on a couch and watch a sports game on satellite television. There's a shower on board. Even an exercise bike the current president has on board.
It is quite a plane that will carry Ronald Reagan home to California. Again Special Air Mission 28,000 the designation.
One of the old 707s that Mr. Reagan flew on most frequently, especially on those trips around the world many are remembering this week as they mourn his passing, it is now at the Reagan Library, gift of the United States government to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
BLITZER: I think it's fair to say, John, if you have to fly around the world, this is about the best way to do it.
KING: It's a nice way to travel.
GREENFIELD: It was actually often said that the one thing, you know, presidents make now $400,000 a year and they hobnob with corporate executives who make in the tens of millions.
But somebody once said, "That's OK because we all have a kind of ego thing about whose private plane is better, and nobody can top the president of the United States."
BLITZER: You're seeing these cannons. There will be a 21-gun salute, a final salute here in the nation's capital to the former president of the United States.
We're expecting very, very soon the motorcade bringing the hearse, bringing Nancy Reagan's limousine, and the family, to this specific site, the tarmac here at Andrews Air Force Base.
It will be a brief ceremony before this plane returns back to California.
ZAHN: And then, of course, much later this afternoon, around 6 p.m. Eastern time, we'll start our coverage of the president's return to California.
It's our understanding that there will be words of remembrance at that time by Michael Reagan, Patti Davis, Ronald Prescott Reagan.
And Wolf and I will be back at around 7:30 Eastern Standard Time to actually show the arrival of the president's remains at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station.
BLITZER: What I want our viewers to know, as well, more astute viewers who probably recognize, those are the joint chiefs of staff. General Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs, is to the left of the screen, followed by the chiefs of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps.
The U.S. joint chiefs of staff, appropriately enough, coming to this U.S. Air Force base, Andrews Air Force Base, to say good-bye to their former commander in chief.
GREENFIELD: For some reason I was recalling the last time a president got on -- was put on an airplane in Washington and flew to California. Thirty years ago, August 8 or 9 I believe. It was when Richard Nixon had to resign the presidency amid scandal, and gave that famous wave at the helicopter.
It is one of the things worth mentioning, that Ronald Reagan's political career was vastly helped by Watergate. First because of his complete lack of involvement. He was not a Washington politician.
And second, because the anti-Washington feeling that Watergate helped create, the idea for somebody new to come in, that's first what got Jimmy Carter elected. But it was also a powerful reason why, I think, the Republican Party, even more than just his political communications, turned to a Washington outsider to help through Watergate.
ZAHN: Let us listen.
BLITZER: Major General Galen Jackman, the military escort, just walking into the 747 with Mrs. Reagan.
Just so our viewers are not confused at all, he's 52 years old, his job is not simply military protocol. He served with an Elite Special Forces unit. This is a warrior who since last Sunday has been assigned to help the former first lady of the United States get through this ordeal, Paula. And as we've seen, he's been with her. She's been clinging to his arm virtually every step of the way.
ZAHN: And as we've watched it, it struck us all this afternoon that she looks weaker than we've seen her as she's walked. A beautiful moment when she made it up to the top of the stairs of this government plane. And she acknowledged the crowd with broad, broad wave. And a smile. And then blew the crowd a kiss.
BLITZER: She has held up beautifully, though. You have to admit. We haven't seen her break down and cry in public, at least, since our cameras have been focused in on her.
ZAHN: She's had tremendous composure. Although I would say today is the most moved I have been in watching her. At the Capitol Rotunda, when she had the opportunity to touch the casket one more time. And she actually reached down, and kissed it. She really is an absolute portrait of strength.
That appears to be Margaret Thatcher now walking up the stairs, which surprised me, because she is also physically weak at the moment, having suffered a series of minor strokes. No easy feat for her at this point to walk up all those stairs. Particularly when her doctors didn't even want her traveling at this point if her recovery.
BLITZER: I suspect, Jeff Greenfield, as we see Margaret Thatcher enter this cabin of this 747 together with other invited guests, for Mrs. Reagan, the real emotional moment will come a few hours from now at that sunset service at that burial out at the presidential library in Simi Valley, California.
GREENFIELD: I think anyone who has gone through the death of a loved one even just ordinary folks, know that the first few days, when there are logistics and there are plans and there are old friends who come to give you comfort, and there are a thousand details.
And it is actually, I, Wolf, was thinking that it might be tomorrow because until the ceremony ends, she is and always has been ever since she and Ronald Reagan entered public life, acutely aware also of the public responsibilities. That gesture at the top of the plane, something she and the president probably did, what, hundreds of times?
But it's in the next couple of days when the crowds go away and the cameras are turned off, Bernie Shaw talked about how helpful it will be for her to just go to her home and get some rest.
But that's when the memories flood back and that's when friends are most needed in a situation like this.
ZAHN: A lot of her friends believe that the one thing that will help keep her motivated is this ongoing fight to raise more money for Alzheimer's research, her very impassioned plea for funding of stem cell transplant research money. She has a cause and clearly has had a cause over the last ten years.
BLITZER: We'll see how visible she is in the coming days, weeks, months, years. There's no doubt that she has had a powerful impact on the American people over this past week. And indeed over these past years as she's endured the pain and suffering of Alzheimer's.
GREENFIELD: And it has to be said, because, you know what? This is a moment of solemnity, but politics surrounds the people we saw this morning, Monday morning will be a new start.
You have to wonder, this woman who has now gotten the sympathy of a nation, admiration for how she's gone through this, if she chooses to be a public person on behalf of embryonic stem cell research, that is not something that the White House is going to be very happy about because the president has taken a very tough position the other way.
And I know it may seem not the right time to bring that up, but we are seeing Nancy Reagan as visibly as we've seen her probably for the last decade. And should she choose to make that a cause, Wolf and Paula, that's going to have some interesting consequences.
BLITZER: Well, she's already made it a cause. A few weeks ago she publicly went out there and made the statement that she made, knowing it would be controversial.
But it's already had an impact. I interviewed Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader the other day. And clearly he says, you know, nothing's going to happen between now and the elections in November. But, he has an open mind, and take a look at the science, take a look at the morality. He's willing to restudy this whole issue. And he's a very strong supporter of the president, obviously.
ZAHN: And for folks who haven't really followed the science of Alzheimer's. It is the belief of Nancy Reagan and others that embryonic stem cell research could lead if not to a cure of Alzheimer's, at least a treatment that might slow down the progression of the disease. That is the hope, they say, of that research.
BLITZER: This plane getting ready to shut the doors. The stairs will be removed, the plane will taxi, will make the flight to California, to the Point Mugu Naval Air Station. The plane had come from there originally.
And then there will be yet another service at that naval air station before the casket once again gets into a hearse, into a motorcade to take it to the presidential library for the final, final burial later tonight.
It will be around sunset. That's what they wanted. Sunset, California time.
ZAHN: When you think how carefully choreographed this event was. We have known for days that this plane was going to attempt to take off at 2:45. The ceremony at the cathedral ended a little bit earlier today. But here we are at almost seven -- eight minutes shy of 2:45. And that plane will, indeed, be in the air.
GREENFIELD: Don't know how many people are going to get see this, whether we have coverage. But Point Mugu is located, if I remember right, halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, on the coast. And as you drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and come to Point Mugu, it's one of the most striking, scenic places. I don't know whether we're going to be able to see that as part of the ceremony. But it's one of the most breathtaking places you can imagine. ZAHN: Beautiful stretch of land.
GREENFIELD: It's what you think the California coastline is like.
And, you know, Ronald Reagan constantly was a man who chose the West as his place to live and work. And this is an eminently fitting return for him.
BLITZER: The flight from California to Washington took only 4 1/2 hours. But because of the winds, this flight scheduled now to take five hours. Scheduled to leave in a few minutes. It will taxi, take off around 2:45 p.m. Eastern, just a few minutes from now. Scheduled to land 7:45 p.m. Eastern. That would be 4:45 p.m. Pacific time.
It will then, the casket will then move its way in the motorcade to the Reagan Memorial Library for this sunset memorial service overlooking the Pacific, the Pacific Ocean, which Ronald Reagan, of course, loved so very much.
It was all planned out, the entire schedule, in military precision, the detail, all planned out so that the burial would occur at sunset, on the Pacific Ocean, right there at the presidential library tonight.
And, Paula, we, of course, here at CNN will have extensive live coverage, wall-to-wall coverage every step of the way.
ZAHN: It might be worth talking about some of the things that are being openly debated about what's going to be named after President Reagan. There's talk of renaming the Pentagon. I don't know whether that will happen. The talk of putting President Reagan on the $10 bill. Of course all deceased presidents are entitled to a postage stamp, so that will happen with no debate. I don't know about the other two, Jeff.
BLITZER: I want to pause just a moment, Jeff, because no matter how many times we see this U.S. Air Force 747 take off, or land, it's such a majestic, wonderful sight. I don't think you can take your eyes off this plane, knowing what's inside, knowing the history of this aircraft. I don't think any of us can -- could move away from the scene.
And as it taxis, Jeff, go ahead and finish your thought. But then I want to just pause and watch this plane take off.
GREENFIELD: Very quickly, it is the sort of thing that triggers debate. Do you take Alexander Hamilton, who Ronald Reagan admired, off the $10 bill? He wasn't a president. Teddy Roosevelt is not on any bill. He a near-great president. Ulysses S. Grant is on the $50 bill. He's considered on of our worst presidents.
It's the sort of thing that would get us back into the arena of public debate. But I think what is safe to say there are going to be a whole lot of things named after Ronald Reagan, because he has -- he has such a coterie of incredibly strong admirers.
And also, to be political, those places where the Republicans have control of state legislatures, it's going to be easier than when they don't.
BLITZER: Nancy Reagan is in the front part of this aircraft, this 747. The casket is in the belly of the plane, towards the rear. This plane is getting ready to take off from Andrews Air Force Base.
Paula, I think it's appropriate, what do you think, we just let our viewers watch it?
ZAHN: Why not?
I did want to -- before we pause for a moment, I did want to make the comment, I don't think any of us has ever flown cross-country, New York against those head winds to L.A. in five hours. They're going to be able to fly anywhere from 45,000 to 50,000 feet. A commercial flight could take as long as 6 to 6 1/2 hours depending on the head winds. And thankfully for Mrs. Reagan we hope it will be a five-hour flight and no longer than that.
BLITZER: Let's hope it's a smooth five-hour flight.
ZAHN: The plane now, into the nasty weather we've been having in Washington. To look at some of the crowds who have been here over the last several hours. Many of these folks watched the National Cathedral ceremony from a large screen that was installed inside one of these hangars.
BLITZER: And they are there. They saw history. I'm sure all of these people, especially the young people, will never forget what they saw on this day here in the United States.
GREENFIELD: Wolf and Paula, did you notice what we heard as the plane took off? It's so fitting for a man who's in the public spotlight as an actor and a politician, applause. A kind of a farewell thank you.
BLITZER: Applause to see that plane take off. That's such a majestic sight.
And there was another majestic sight we want to show our viewers now, Paula, that happened just a couple days ago. The U.S. aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan was in port in Rio de Janeiro.
And you see this flag that's coming down? This flag, from the aircraft carrier named after the 40th president of the United States, is now being brought back to the presidential library in Simi Valley, California. And it will be handed over to Mrs. Reagan later tonight.
ZAHN: One of the things that I think will have a great deal of resonance with the American public, besides the amazing dignity that Mrs. Reagan has displayed over the last five, six, days is the gesture she just made at the top of the stairs before they took off. I think it's the first opportunity that she's had any meaningful time to interact with crowds. I know when the procession, the horse- drawn procession was taking place on Wednesday night, there were people you could hear screaming, "Nancy Reagan, we love you." And she didn't have an opportunity at that point to react. I thought that was a really lovely moment.
BLITZER: I think she's deeply gratified, deeply grateful to the American people for the outpouring of affection that I'm sure has come across to her, this understanding of what this week has meant.
GREENFIELD: I just was very glad to see that this woman, who will be 83 soon, who appeared -- some of us were watching these pictures, worried about her -- at the end of it walking up those flight of stairs, not the easiest thing for a person of that age, turns and just says to the people who came out, thank you, acknowledging it.
That was -- that was the right gesture.
BLITZER: The right gesture, indeed.
All right, Andrews Air Force base beginning to clean up, beginning to wrap up the events over there. It's been a remarkable couple of days for the U.S. military there.
The Reagan Library on the right part of the screen, with those flags flying at half-staff. About five hours from now, the U.S. Air Force plane carrying the casket of Ronald Reagan will land at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station and then once again the journey over to the presidential library will continue.
We're going to go out there and speak to our Candy Crowley. She's already there. We're going to go out there in just a moment.
But I want to take a quick commercial break. And we'll continue our special coverage of the state funeral of Ronald Reagan.
ZAHN: And Wolf Blitzer and I are back. We have been with you over the last five hours or so, to share with you the final trip home of Ronald Reagan. His body is now on its way back to California, along with his family. Five hours from now we'll have extensive coverage of his arrival back at Point Mugu at the naval air station.
BLITZER: I don't know about you, Paula, but this has been an emotional day for, I'm sure for you, for me, for all of our viewers.
ZAHN: It, in many ways, was a beautiful day as an American. I think we're all touched in very different ways. I know Judy Woodruff who is not standing too far from the National Cathedral where we watched the ceremony unfold together, also found it profoundly affecting -- Judy. Now the family's on its way back to California.
WOODRUFF: Paula, that's right. And I think we're left here in Washington to reflect on what was an extraordinary moment in the life of this city. And actually I have somebody with me here in northwest Washington. Kate Lehrer, she's a novelist. She's lived in Washington since the early 1970s. You've had a chance to Washington presidents come and go. It's almost as if, are we seeing the end of an era in a way?
KATE LEHRER, AUTHOR: I think we're definitely seeing the end of an era, Judy. I think that what's happened is that even when the Reagans were here it was the end of an era. That somehow we knew it. They were an older generation. There had been nothing like them. They brought back a world of the gala, they brought back a different kind of world that hadn't been here since the Kennedys. And I think now we're seeing the very end of it going away. There was a sense of participation by politicians of both parties. A lot more mixing and mingling...
WOODRUFF: Than we see today.
LEHRER: Than we see today. And have seen since, really, they left.
WOODRUFF: You and I were talking about Nancy Reagan. We've all been talking about her, the strength and the grace that she showed. She was a formidable force when she was in the White House.
LEHRER: Yes, she was.
WOODRUFF: And you and I were living here then.
LEHRER: We really were. And she was -- Meg Greenfield said about her, who is the editor of the editorial page of the "Washington Post," seeing her up close as often as she did that she was really the energizer, the motivator, the activator of her husband. And I think there's a lot to be said for that. She is quite, quite a woman.
WOODRUFF: She's a tough woman. A very tough woman. And we saw that in an extraordinary way today.
LEHRER: Yes, yes we did.
WOODRUFF: Was this city changed by the Reagans in a way, do you think?
LEHRER: I think it was. It was changed for awhile. And I'll tell you, it brought the dynamics back of -- and it was changed -- it brought back the sense of possibility. For some, as we know, he had vigorous opposition. But we also went back to a time of real civility where, because of Reagan, and I think Bush 41, President Bush, the first President Bush said it today, he had political opponents, but not personal enemies. And it really helped. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have lasted. And it changed for a little while.
WOODRUFF: It did change for awhile. But we seem to have gone back. Kate Lehrer, somebody who hails from Texas. You hear it a little bit in your voice. But you know, there's so many of us in Washington who come to this city. We're connected with the journalism. You happen to be married to Jim Lehrer of the "Newshour" on PBS.
LEHRER: That's right.
WOODRUFF: The journalists seem to stay in this city. The political people come and go. And we get to sort of watch the passing political parade.
LEHRER: Yes, we do. Yes, we do. And I've been able to be just not a journalist myself, but seeing it with the eye of a novelist and, say, cultural anthropologist. It's a very different way to look at it. Just a little bit on the fringe seeing how everything operates. But it was just a very different time. And it was the last of a time, I do believe. It was an old values. Even then the undercurrents were there. Women and minorities were beginning to take their place in society in a way that hadn't happened to such an extent before. It was all being, you know, -- it had been there in the '70s and the '60s. But the '80s it was really happening. And with the passing of the Reagan era, it truly came to happen.
WOODRUFF: What about ceremonies, Kate, one last thing, ceremonies like this? You know, we've talked about bringing political parties together, the Democrats and Republicans. What about the ceremony itself?
LEHRER: Oh, I think ceremonies are wonderful things. And I think they also had this great sense of pageantry. Both of them. Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Each did and we saw today that she certainly had it herself, and still has it and was able to get through all that. I think it helped. I think it always helps bring a nation together. And we just have fewer and fewer occasions.
WOODRUFF: We do. There just don't seem to be as many times.
LEHRER: And always sad times, unfortunately. I think you said earlier, which is too bad. There are not so many times.
WOODRUFF: It has to be a funeral or a 9/11 or something like that when we come together.
LEHRER: Exactly. Which is just too bad.
WOODRUFF: Kate Lehrer, novelist, Texan.
WOODRUFF: And friend. Thank you for coming by to talk to us.
LEHRER: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Sitting up here on the roof, Paula, and Wolf, of the building not too far from the cathedral where the weather has gotten a little bit rainy again. But I think all of us feel very privileged to have played a small part in watching this, along with the nation.
ZAHN: Judy, you're right. It has been a privilege to witness it the way we have from these frontrow seats. The Ronald Reagan's body now is on its way back to California, and our special events coverage will get cooking in about a little less than five hours from now. In the meantime, let's check in with Candy Crowley who will give us a sense of what will happen once the president and his family arrive back on the west coast. Hi, Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula. The former president, the late Ronald Reagan wanted a sunset ceremony. He's going to get it. As dark and gloomy as it is in Washington, it is beautiful here. Not a cloud in the sky. There will be a sunset ceremony as they lay him to rest here at the Ronald Reagan Library. It seems to me that Washington said good-bye to a president, and said good-bye to a commander-in-chief and said good-bye to a world leader. Here in California, at Simi Valley at the library, they're going to say good-bye, to the husband, to the father, and to the friend.
Old friends of the Reagans will be here. Much more of a reunion of those who were heavily involved in the Reagan administration, even beginning before he was governor. And you will hear from the three children, the three surviving children of Ronald Reagan. From Patti, from Ron, from Michael, who will give eulogies to their father. So much more personal here. Although still there will be an F-18 flyover, a solo bagpipe of "Amazing Grace." So still ceremony, but a lot more personal, a lot more about the man than the public figure -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks so much for the update. Wolf and I will be checking back with you at around the time all of that gets underway. What a long period of time for Nancy Reagan.
BLITZER: It's been an incredible journey for her. Obviously not only this week, but these years which her husband suffered from Alzheimer's. Let's review exactly where we go from here. The plane is now in the air, Paula. It will take about five hours to land at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station. Scheduled to land around 7:30 p.m. Eastern. That's when we'll be back for our live coverage of the next stage. The next phase of this state funeral. That will be 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
At around 9:00 p.m., there will be a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE," who will be, from here, this scene we're seeing, the Presidential Library out in Simi Valley, Larry King will have a special edition at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Aaron Brown will be back at 10:30 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of "NEWSNIGHT." A lot of coverage here. I'll be back later today at 5:00 p.m. for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." For Paula, for Jeff, for Judy, for all of our team, thanks so much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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