Above is a three hour and five minute video uploaded by the Reagan Library, (shot by Fox News), of Nancy Reagan’s funeral service from late this morning. It starts out slow, and for an unknown reason the audio cuts out, but then returns fourteen minutes in with footage of the bulk of the guest arrivals.
A good place to jump ahead to is the 1:28:30 mark— where First Lady Michelle Obama, Governor Jerry Brown, President George W. & Mrs. Bush, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy are led in together by a phalanx of Secret Service. This was appropriately done given the notoriety of this group, and the fact they waited until most of the rest of the guests were in and seated. Right after is the casket procession and then the service begins.
Although I didn’t intend to… I was out and about running a couple errands around the time the services actually began, and I listened to the wonderful coverage on KNX 1070 News Radio that carried it live. KNX reporter Margaret Carrero, who I mentioned in a previous post, was up there in Simi Valley covering the services. She did an extraordinary job and got great interviews by some of the major notables who were in attendance.
By the time I got back home I caught James Baker’s eulogy and watched it till the live stream abruptly ended at the internment site just after Mrs. Reagan’s family departed the immediate area.
I thought the services were quite nice, and surprising at some points with the reflections and stories given by many who spoke. To have known the Reagan way all these years— President and especially Mrs. Reagan— were extremely guarded and private people. To hear some of the intimate details of at-home life and personal stories were sobering.
Talking to some folks over this past week, especially after the guest list was announced, a few of them had wondered why the likes of John Stamos and Mr. T, among others, were invited guests. With those two alone it was easy for me to answer which then elicited the ah ha! response. John Stamos has had a strong association with The Beach Boys for well over twenty five years, and Mrs. Reagan once fought for them to appear at a concert in Washington D.C. that they initially were not allowed to do so. Mr. T, as most of us 80s kids recall, was a partner in her “Just Say No” campaign.
The one thing I found interesting was the presence of former news legend, Sam Donaldson. I say this because it was well known during the Reagan White House years that Donaldson and President Reagan had a sometimes-contentious relation with one another— much as Donaldson’s doing via his sharp assertiveness at press conferences. But in the end all is well.
Noticeably absent was Mrs. Barbara Bush, but I am to assume that President George W. & Mrs. Laura Bush represented the entire Bush family. It is worth noting that President George H. W. & Mrs. Bush are 91 and 90 years old, respectively. Not that age would have kept them from attending, as they appeared recently at a GOP debate near their home in Texas, but long distance travel could be a factor.
One thing I do want to point out is the so-called “presidential snub” that some of the news outlets have been pushing. President Obama was scheduled to speak today at the SXSW event in Texas, and it was already arranged that First Lady Michelle Obama would be attending the services. I don’t think in recent memory, best I can recall, that President George W. Bush attended the funerals of Mrs. Betty Ford or Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson— nor did President Bill Clinton attend Mrs. Pat Nixon’s in 1993. It has been custom, so to speak, that sitting first ladies have attended. Now presidential funerals— that’s gone without saying that the sitting president does in fact go, and some times has eulogized.
I noticed that Michael Reagan, (President Reagan’s son by first wife Jane Wyatt), was not there, but his two children were. It was said that Michael was overseas on business and was not able to reschedule meetings already planned. However I did notice that Dennis C. Revell, the widower of the late Maureen Reagan (President Reagan’s daughter also by Jane Wyatt) was there, and was part of the rest of the close family that paid respects at the internment site at the end.
The Reagan children, Ron Reagan and Patti Davis, gave moving eulogies, and a lot of what Patti had said was also in her written piece this past week she wrote for TIME. Patti is hands-down a wonderful writer. She is also quite active on social media (Facebook & Twitter), and even despite this difficult week she has not hesitated to respond to negativity. The gall of some people and kudos to her.
Today was somber as we bid farewell to our beloved former First Lady, and it was most fitting. To those who have balked at the type of funeral, and accompanying coverage, well I don’t know what to say. What do you expect? I was born at the tail-end of President Carter’s administration, and counting then to now, there have been a total of six first ladies in my lifetime. And out of those first ladies— Mrs. Reagan is the first one to have passed away.
And she was no small potatoes, and with her husband, left a huge legacy and impact… no matter how you cut it.