|Centre students, alumni take part in public observances for Reagan
RELEASED: June 17, 2004
DANVILLE, KYSeveral Centre students and alumni living in the Washington, D.C. area attended the public visitations for the late President Ronald Reagan late last week.
The former President's body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda. Reagan, the nation's 40th president, died June 5 at the age of 93.
Benjamin Beaton '03, a legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), took the opportunity to view Reagan's casket.
"The mood here was solemn but not somber," Beaton says. "Reagan's death was a blow, but wasn't a tragedy, and it gave us the chance to celebrate a great American life. It was special to be here when President Reagan brought the nation together one last time."
Ben Monarch, a rising senior who is working in the office of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this summer, also paid his respects at the Capitol Rotunda.
"It was a tremendous and humbling honor to stand before the 40th President of the United States' coffin and bid him a warm, appreciative farewell."
Bren Landon '01, a public relations assistant for the Daughters of the American Revolution, says the procession was "very touching."
"The riderless horse with Reagan's riding boots turned backwards, Nancy [Reagan] waving out the window to the crowd, and the coolest part was the jets flying overit sent chills down my back," she says. "It's amazing seeing such an historic event happen right in front of your eyes."
Ashley Vinsel '03, a senior marketing associate at Corporate Executive Board, found the events "amazingly powerful." She also had the excitement of meeting former President Bill Clinton at the recent opening of the World War II Memorial.
"At the processional, the sharp juxtaposition between complete silence and scattered clapping for Nancy Reagan made a lot of people cry," she says.
Centre has had many presidential/D.C. ties through the years.
In 2000, Centre hosted the only vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. Former President Jimmy Carter delivered Centre's commencement address in 1987.
Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor addressed Centre's 2004 graduating class on May 23. O'Connor is the first female to serve on the Supreme Court and was appointed by Reagan. She also gave a lecture at Centre in 1987. Former Reagan press secretary Marlin Fitzwater spoke at Centre in 1999.
In addition, Centre graduates include two former vice presidents (John Cabell Breckinridge, Class of 1838, and Adlai Stevenson, Class of 1860), a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Fred Vinson, Class of 1909), and an associate justice of the Supreme Court (John Marshall Harlan (Class of 1850).
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top-50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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