Preview of Burial Services at the Reagan Library on Friday

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, June 10, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:  Now for a preview of tomorrow's burial services at the Reagan Library (search) in Simi Valley, California, we are joined by the host of "FOX News Sunday," Chris Wallace, who's also hosting tomorrow night's special coverage here on Fox News Channel.  Chris, is it -- I assume everyone's getting ready there for tomorrow's -- Friday's events.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Oh, they -- you know, it's been amazing, watching -- and you can only call it a rehearsal.  The bands have been playing.  There have been jet fighters flying overhead, preparing for the fly-over, artillery shooting off the 21-gun salute, everybody getting ready to make sure that tomorrow goes off precisely as planned.

I can tell you that the people planning the funeral were worried about what they called funeral fatigue, that people would basically be worn out by the week's events.  I can also tell you, having been walked through all of the events and all of the locations here at the Reagan library that it is going to provide some of the most emotional and some of the most indelible images of this week.

Let me just give you a brief rundown.  The president's casket will be carried first behind the Reagan library, past a slab of the Berlin Wall, the wall he helped bring down with his challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev.  There will then be a formal ceremony with several hundred people here.  All three of his children are scheduled to speak -- Patti, Ron and Michael.  Then the casket will be brought off the stage by a military honor guard, and led by a solo Irish bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace," it will be brought to the gravesite, which is an extraordinary site overlooking the mountains here of California, and off shimmering in the distance, the Pacific Ocean.  This will all be happening at what they call "golden hour," just as the sun is beginning to set here on the western edge of the United States.

The flag that has covered the president's casket will be folded with military precision and presented to the former first lady, Nancy Reagan, by the captain of the USS Ronald Reagan, and then I suppose the emotional high point, the most emotional moment of the whole evening, when Mrs. Reagan will say good-bye for the last time to her cherished husband.

I can tell you, as I was taken through it by what I call the space cowboys, the veterans -- and I know you're going to be talking to one of the best in just a moment, Gary Foster, the veteran advance man who provided some of the most indelible images of the Reagan presidency and who want to provide this formal farewell -- one moment you had -- you felt goose bumps and the next moment you had a lump in your throat.  It is going to be an emotionally charged evening.

VAN SUSTEREN:  You know, Chris -- you know, here it's nightfall in Washington, and people are lined up.  There's sort of a mixture, though, of people who are somber, but they're also trying to celebrate his life.  Do you get sort of that mixture of emotions there?

WALLACE:  Oh, absolutely.  You know, it is certainly somber, and people miss -- you know, are mourning his passing.  On the other hand, he was a 93-year-old man who, except for this illness in the last final years, led the most fulling -- most fulfilled, most rewarding of lives, had a 50-year-plus love affair with his wife, Nancy, you know, accomplished everything a man of such conviction and courage could have hoped to accomplish.  So I thought it was so interesting yesterday in Washington, where people would applaud, and it was really, I think, a sense of a job well done.  People genuinely appreciated what Ronald Reagan had done for this country, and they wanted to show their appreciation.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Many famous faces here in Washington have strolled past the president's casket.  Who's expected tomorrow, if you know, in Simi Valley?

WALLACE:  Incidentally, we could just hear one of the artillery shots, another one going off there as they practice the salute.

The only one I know -- and you may be able to ask Gary Foster about this -- is I hear that Margaret Thatcher is going to make the trip out here.  But they have very consciously decided not to get all of official Washington here.  Nobody is going to be representing the president, vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush (search), of course, then president 41 -- he's not going to be here.  The family very much wanted this to be a more personal, a more family affair.  Washington gets its chance to say good-bye to him tomorrow morning.  California and his family get the chance to say good-bye to him tomorrow evening.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And you can see the depth of this friendship between Margaret Thatcher and the president because she was here today.  This is not an easy trip.  She hasn't been in great health.  They were good friends, weren't they.

WALLACE:  Oh, absolutely.  You know, they stared down -- actually, she was the one who said first, after meeting Mikhail Gorbachev, I think this is a man that we can do business with.  And the president picked up on that after both having faced down the Soviets in the first half of the '80s, in the second half of the '80s, she was there with him as he tried to negotiate the arms deals and eventually bringing about the beginning of the end of the...

There you can hear one of the jets going by!  I should tell you, Greta, for all of the planning that's going to go around about tomorrow's events, there is one X factor, one thing that they're not sure about.  And that is -- you talk about the outpouring of public feeling and public emotion.  The president is going to have to be driven -- his casket is going to have to be driven about an hour from Point Mugu Naval Air Station here to -- along freeways to the Reagan presidential library.  And they're not quite sure how many people are going to be there.  And they are anticipating that there are going to be very big crowds of people who want to say a final farewell to Ronald Reagan, and that that could delay proceedings a little bit tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, well, Chris, thank you.  And of course, we want to make sure everyone does watch your Fox News Channel special coverage tomorrow night, which is the farewell to President Reagan, with Brit Hume here in Washington and Chris WALLACE, tomorrow night at 7:30 PM Eastern time.  And as the nation does say good-bye to the 40th president of the United States, let's take a look at some of his final farewell to the nation just before leaving office.


RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We've done our part.  And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back.  My friends, we did it.  We weren't just marking time.  We made a difference.  We made the city stronger.  We made the city freer.  And we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad.  Not bad at all.


VAN SUSTEREN:  President Reagan's former director of press advance, Gary Foster, joins us from Simi Valley, California.  He's been helping to plan this final farewell for years.  Gary, how many years has gone into this planning?

GARY FOSTER, PLANNED REAGAN'S FUNERAL:  Well, technically, Greta, each president is required to actually have a plan in place as soon as they are elected president.  Obviously, you know, those plans are general initially and then become more refined and defined over the years and change and evolve.  You know, we've -- we've -- the president has lived quite a while (UNINTELLIGIBLE) presidency, and so we've had that luxury.  But once he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, we really started concentrating on focusing on trying to get as many details as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gary, did you actually meet with the president to begin these plans?

FOSTER:  I did not, but others did.  In fact, when he was sitting a president, they began to discuss the general outline of a state funeral and where he would want to be buried and those type of decisions.  Mrs. Reagan, obviously, has been very involved over the years in making, you know, every decision that was offered up or offering her own ideas about what some of these plans would be.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gary, many in the nation would like to attend, but I know that the guest list must necessarily be a limited one.  Any idea who has been invited?  And who made those decisions?

FOSTER:  It's a combination of, you know, some of the president's former lives.  And you know, he was an actor, he was governor, he was president, obviously, and there are people from all of those worlds.  Mr. And Mrs. Charlton Heston, Mr. and Mrs. Kirk Douglas, Mrs. Bob Hope will be attending from kind of his Hollywood days.  Secretary Schultz, who obviously served him as secretary of state for six years as president.  You know, a lot of Californians.  But it's going to be primarily their closest personal friends and family members.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Was this -- Gary, was there any rehearsal before the president died?  Because I mean, it's quite amazing how well orchestrated this certainly appears.  It's been flawless here in the District of Columbia, and I expect it's flawless there tomorrow.

FOSTER:  There have been quite a few rehearsals and quite a few meetings regarding it.  We've actually extended those meetings with some members of the press corps that would be covering this event because, obviously, that's just as great a logistical challenge as actually executing the event.  So we've -- we've been meeting on a regular basis.  The armed services obviously are very involved in this because it is a state funeral, the library.  But you know, we've been coordinated by a lot of former staff members that served him as president that, you know, wanted to put this last event together for him.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And when you say "we," give me an idea of how many people this "we" is who has put on this celebration of the president's life?

FOSTER:  We have a team of about 15 or 20 former White House staffers here in California that have focused on all of these events, that some of us live in the southern California area now, others flew from Washington, from Texas and other four corners.  There is a similar group, if not much larger, in Washington -- so many people still there -- that have been involved in all of those events.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, Gary.  Well, thank you very much.  Of course, we will be watching tomorrow as Chris Wallace hosts from Simi Valley.  Thank you, Gary.

FOSTER:  Thank you, Greta.

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