In the Crowd on Constitution
The caisson moves slowly away, with a dark horse following behind. The crowd along Constitution Avenue applauds, and 75-year-old Mary Browne steps carefully off the bench she climbed onto to see the procession. It is her last look at Ronald Reagan.
For most, the view is of horses' ears and soldiers' white hats, the top of the black hearse and, in the distance, the flags flying at half-staff around the Washington Monument or over the White House. For some, the view is of the sweaty backs pressed in front of them.
In 15 minutes, it is all over. Many waited hours for this glimpse, but they didn't seem to mind. They played cards or napped, talked to people crowded in near them.
"It gives me time to think about things," says Steve Weakley of Frederick, a landscaper. "This country's a great country because of leaders like him. It's nice sometimes just to have some time to wind down and think about how good we have it in this country."
It was a little piece of history unfolding, says Steve Ross, in town from Los Angeles on business, smoking a cigar as he sits against a tree. He's a lifelong Democrat and blames Reagan's policies for making life more difficult for his mentally ill sister. None of that matters to him at this moment. "In a very fundamental way, I just feel very, very proud to be an American."
Browne, down from her perch, laughs and straightens her straw hat so it is just so. She didn't see much. "But it's wonderful," she says. "We needed to have something like this."
-- Susan Kinzie