Another reader who was there:
I was at the funeral procession with a group of friends yesterday. Three things really got my attention, some of which have been commented on elsewhere. First, obvoiusly there were people from all over the country. I talked to one lady who owned a marine salvage business in Texas and had come up for the procession, and was going to the Capitol later last night. She thought it was the least she could do in return for all Reagan did for us. I met many more like her.
The second thing that I noticed was the mood – I had expected it to be more somber than it was. People were laughing, telling stories about when they first voted for him, how bad it was in the 70s, what a wienie Carter was (is) and how much Reagan had accomplished. Obviously people were appropriately somber when the caisson and riderless horse passed by, but all in all the atmosphere was one of celebration rather than grief.
The third thing that really captured my attention was how the crowd pulled for the members of the military as they stood at attention in parade order prior to the start. It must have been brutally hot standing in the middle of Constitution Avenue in parade dress, much of the time at attention. After the first few servicemen were overcome and collapsed (to be immediately replaced by the person behind them in formation), the crowd began watching for signs of distress. As people in the crowd saw a serviceman who was having trouble holding their salute, or showing other signs of fatigue, they would almost will them to stand up, and then alert rescue workers who would go to their assistance. Having participated in the World War II Veterans’ Parade on Memorial Day, I’ve now seen up close twice the way the public supports our military.
As they say, not bad, not bad at all.