June 10, 2004
by at 12:24 PMAs I watch President Reagan's funeral this week, I am deeply touched by the moment in history we are all living through. Beyond the sadness of a great man's death, it really marks the end of an era -- an end of the 1980s. I think that whether you agreed with Ronald Reagan's policies or not, it is difficult not to be touched by his passing. Think about the Challenger explosion and Mr. Reagan's "...touch the face of God" speech.
Funerals are the most ritualized events in our culture. The most ritualized of all funerals are for Heads of State. Because the rituals are very traditional, pictures from 100 years ago of a state funeral look very much like the pictures of today's state funeral. When I look at photographs of previous Presidential funerals, I feel a connection with the historic event. It enables me to make an emotional connection with the people who lived in another time. They lined the street for their President just like we line the Street for ours. They mourned exactly the way we do. And, I'm sure some people at the time said "Well, I was never a fan of the President's, but...", just like some people do today.
Some day in the future after we're all dead and gone, people will line the streets for a recently deceased President who has not even been born today and will feel just like we do now. The connection with history is palpable.
I searched the net and dug up pictures of several Presidential funerals and processions. I thought other people might experience this emotional connection, as well so I've put them together here. I've linked many of the photos back to their original source if you're interested in reading more. Be patient, the page may load somewhat slowly.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Reagan
President Lincoln's Funeral Procession
President James Garfield lying in State in the Rotunda in 1881
President William McKinley's funeral
President Teddy Roosevelt's Burial
Warren Harding's funeral
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Funeral
President Hoover passed in 1964
General Eisenhower died in 1969
President Hary Truman died in 1972
President Johnson died in 1973:
President Nixon at Yorba Linda in 1994