Americans are paying their final respects this week to former President Ronald Reagan, who died Saturday at the age of 93 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Ronald Reagan

The public will be given opportunities in both California and the nation’s capital to view the body of the 40th president, culminating Friday with a national day of mourning and a state funeral.

The first chance to view Reagan lying in state is today at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The body will then be flown to Washington, D.C., where the public can view the late president at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda from Wednesday evening through Friday morning, as a national funeral service is slated at Washington National Cathedral at 11:30 a.m. (See entire schedule of events.)

Already, the nation’s emotional reaction to the death of the former president is being compared to the outpouring following the deaths of presidents John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.

Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a close friend of Reagan, will reportedly attend the funeral on Friday and deliver a 10-minute address she recorded before the death of the former commander in chief.

The London Telegraph says it’s believed to be the first time a non-American has been invited to deliver a eulogy at a U.S. president’s funeral.

The paper quoted Thatcher as saying: “President Reagan was one of my closest political and dearest personal friends. He will be missed not only by those who knew him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly and loved so deeply, but also by millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued. Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired.”

Ronald Reagan on 1966 Newsweek cover

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who succeeded Reagan in the White House in 1989, said: “Ronald Wilson Reagan epitomized what America stands for – freedom, democracy, and national pride. He would not want us to mourn his loss, but to celebrate the spirit of optimism that he held so dear.”

Even those on the other side of the political spectrum are paying their respects.

Former President Jimmy Carter said: “President Reagan was a formidable political campaigner, who provided an inspirational voice to America when our people were searching for a clear message of hope and confidence.”

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he was putting his presidential campaign on hold through this week in honor of Reagan.

“He really did believe that communism could be ended in his lifetime, and he helped to make it happen,” Kerry said. “Perhaps President Reagan’s greatest monument isn’t any building or any structure that bears his name, but it is the absence of the Berlin Wall.”

‘The evil empire’

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union – the country Reagan once referred to as an “evil empire” – called Reagan “a great president” and said he felt “deep regret” at the news of his passing.

“To use the terminology of those years,” said Gorbachev, “he was a hawk. Nevertheless, that hawk loved life, he was a man who respected traditions, and I think he was concerned about how he would be remembered in history. It was his goal and his dream to end his term and enter history as a peacemaker.”

WorldNetDaily has also been receiving e-mails, as readers share their sentiments about the man often called “the Great Communicator.”

  • “The world has lost a man of great character. He was a gift from God and will live on for eternity through his thoughts, words, and ideals.” (Scott Smith)

  • “Defeating Communist Russia – our nation’s greatest military threat in the last 50 years – without having to wage war was such a triumph. Peace through strength – thank you Ronald Reagan!” (R.B.Cox)

  • “Ronald Reagan made me proud to be an American after the disgrace of Jimmy Carter. Reagan had [courage] and was one of the great leaders of all time. He changed the world and made our economy soar.” (Joseph Rocco)

  • “Let’s remember Ronald Reagan as a man who loved his nation – our nation. Let’s grasp hold to his hope and optimism. Let us believe in his eternal faith in the goodness of America. We as a nation must hold on to his vision. We must persist in maintaining his vision of liberty and freedom for all mankind.” (Samuel Trippi)

    Related stories:

    Schedule of Reagan funeral events

    Reagan dies after Alzheimer’s battle

    Related Special Offer:

    “Hand of Providence: The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan,” by Mary Beth Brown, published by WND Books.

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