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Time-Honored Traditions

I took an hour out of my evening to watch the proceedings surrounding Ronald Reagan. This evening he was brought to the Capitol Building where he will lie in state until the funeral on Friday. The historian in me is always interested in the traditions, the pomp and circumstance that are found at such occassions. So many of them stem from historical roots and have been honored for decades or even centuries. Here are a few I noticed this evening:

  • Backwards boots in the stirups of a riderless horse
  • Coffin being placed on a caisson
  • Riders on only three of the six horses drawing the caisson, and only on the horses on the left side
  • A flyover by military jets
  • One jet leaving the formation
  • Twenty-one gun salute
  • Hands over the heart when the casket passes by

Of course these are just a few of the many, many traditions. It seems the more famous the man, the more traditions that attend the funeral.

I had no real love for Reagan. He was never my President and I was quite young while he was in power. Sure I remember certain events, but at the time I was far more concerned with growing up. I found myself watching in fascination tonight, seeing the love people had for this man – this man that very few of the people there had ever met. It made me realize that I really had lost faith in the office of President. President Clinton made such a farce of the office – I mean, are we truly supposed to believe, some day, that Hillary will be weeping for her husband when his time comes? I guess there are some men who have managed to maintain and even enhance the dignity of the office. Truly Reagan must have been one of those men.


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