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A little history

Posted by ESC on June 09, 2004

In Reply to: Lying in repose vs lying in state posted by ESC on June 08, 2004

: : What is the meaning of "lying in repose" and "lying in state" in reference to the now deceased former President Reagan?

: A former president's remains may lie in repose at a church or other suitable location. During repose, which is open to the public, a military Guard of Honor stands watch over the remains.

: The term "lying in state" is used only when referring to repose in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, a government building.
: Lying in state is the formal honor accorded by placement of the former president's remains in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol with a ceremonial honor guard to attend him. Although lying in state continues through the night, it differs from lying in repose, which occurs at a church or other suitable location.

: The former president's remains are received with ceremony at the Capitol after arrival at Andrews Air Force Base.

: An Armed Forces Guard of Honor maintains a vigil over the remains throughout the period of time the remains lie in state. Public viewing is allowed continuously during the lying in state until one hour before the departure ceremony.

: From

: However, not everyone lying in repose in the Capitol is "lying in state":
: Jan. 28, 1998
: WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The bodies of Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson were lying in repose Tuesday in the majestic hall beneath the Dome of the U.S. Capitol, the building where the two police officers worked and died.
: The two men are lying in repose rather than lying in state. The latter honor is given only to those entitled to a state funeral.

"The body (of Ronald Reagan) will then lie in state - only the 10th time that honor has been performed for a president, and the 27th instance overall, from 152 years ago with Henry Clay and most recently carried out in 1998, when two Capitol policemen slain by a gunmen were memorialized in the Rotunda...

Abraham Lincoln lay in state for three days after his 1865 assassination. Following James Garfield and William McKinley, also slain by assassins, came Warren G. Harding, who died in office in 1923.

Since then, the decision of whether a person will be honored in the Rotunda has been made by the family in consultation with congressional leaders.

Other presidents who have lain in state were William Howard Taft, John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower. But the family of Harry S. Truman, who died just a month before Johnson, opted for funeral ceremonies in Missouri. The last to lie in state was Lyndon Johnson, who died in 1973." (CBS News online - Accessed June 9, 2004. )

".By law, state funerals are for presidents, former presidents, presidents-elect or anyone designated for one by the president. The family must agree, and not all have. Harry S. Truman died less than a month before Johnson in 1973, for example, but his widow, Bess, was ailing and didn't want to travel to Washington. Richard Nixon died in 1994, but the only president to resign didn't want his body returned to a capital city he found hostile. He was buried after a funeral in California.

Reagan's family requested a state funeral in Washington.

In 1989, Reagan filed a 300-page plan with the Military District of Washington, which is responsible for the planning and execution of state funerals. The plan has been updated annually since then.

Former Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush all have plans on file with the Military District. Bill Clinton has not filed one..." (By Steven Thomma, Free Press, Washington Staff, June 9, 2004. Online at )