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Hundreds Gather for Reagan Library Reopening

The Flag Day (search) reopening of President Ronald Reagan's hilltop library drew hundreds of visitors to the tomb where the nation's 40th president was laid to rest over the weekend.

Sunshine bathed the crowd of about 300 people when the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (search) opened at 10 a.m. From toddlers to seniors, some wore patriotic T-shirts showing the U.S. flag.

"It's hard not to have tears. It's just awesome," said Ann Bateman of Calabasas, who arrived at 7 a.m. and was first in line. "It's such an appropriate place for him to be. It is beautiful here. Maybe he's watching us,"

Johnnie Buhlar, 62, of Clarksville, Tenn., was visiting her pregnant daughter in El Segundo and felt as long as she was close, she should come to see the grave.

"I remember years ago when he was an actor and he became president and I was so touched that he and Nancy were so in love," she said. "I'm moved. I just wanted to show my respect to a former president and her (Nancy Reagan's) family."

Reagan died at his Los Angeles home June 5 at age 93 from pneumonia complicated by Alzheimer's disease (search).

After his death, the entire library and museum was closed for ceremonies, though the public was invited to pass by Reagan's casket in the lobby. About 106,000 people filed past the flag-draped casket during a 34-hour tribute June 7 and 8. Most waited in line for hours.

The mahogany coffin was entombed early Saturday in a garden crypt surrounded by oak trees, just 100 feet from a chunk of the Berlin Wall he demanded torn down by the Soviet Union.

Next month, on the Fourth of July, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library unveils a new museum exhibit, "Mourning in America," on last week's funeral ceremonies and tributes.

The exhibit will include photo montages, shell casings from the 21-gun salute and the bier on which Reagan's casket rested. Videos of the five days of funeral events in California and Washington will also be shown.

The library opened Monday with extended hours — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until July 4. The regular 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule will begin July 5.