Washington to Draw 100,000 to See Reagan

Some 100,000 people are expected to pay their respects to Ronald Reagan (search) and government workers will get a day off to honor the former president who died Saturday at his California home.

President Bush, mourning the nation's 40th president during a D-Day (search) commemoration Sunday at Colleville-sur-Mer, France, said to applause: "Twenty summers ago, another American president came here to Normandy to pay tribute to the men of D-Day. He was a courageous man himself and a gallant leader in the cause of freedom. And today we honor the memory of Ronald Reagan."

The White House later announced the federal government will be closed Friday when Reagan's funeral service will take place at the National Cathedral.

Exempt from the closing are operations department and agency heads determine "should remain open for reasons of national security or defense or other essential public business," according to the Bush proclamation.

Reagan's body will arrive at the U.S. Capitol rotunda on Wednesday evening. The Capitol was being closed to public tours at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Also on Monday, the Senate scrapped its routine legislative plans for the week and quickly approved legislation to allow the former president's body to lie in state in the rotunda. House approval was set for Tuesday.

Public viewing of the casket will begin at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday after a 7 p.m. arrival ceremony closed to all except Reagan family, members of Congress, visiting heads of state and other government officials. The Rotunda will remain open 24 hours a day until early Friday morning, and photography will not be permitted during the viewing.

Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said more than 100,000 people were expected to pay their respects during the viewing period.

Reagan's body will leave the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. Friday for the funeral at the National Cathedral.

Political friends and foes alike are remembering Reagan as a president with boundless optimism and a fervent belief in the prosperity of democracy.

In the first of numerous congressional eulogies, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search) said Reagan "believed there was good and evil in the world and America stands for the good. He believed America must protect freedom wherever it is threatened. And he believed that democracy is not the privilege of a fortunate few but the rightful and ordained destiny of all mankind."

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice (search), with Bush in Georgia for an international economic summit that begins Tuesday, said Reagan's legacy loomed large.

She noted that Reagan presided over the same gathering in 1983 in Williamsburg, Va., the first time it was held in the United States.

Reagan was "a true giant of international politics," Rice said. "We are all deeply saddened by his death, and look forward this week to the opportunity to remember him, as a country and as a world."

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search), Reagan's national security adviser, said his former boss took a principled stand against communism and never strayed.

"The president always believed that the Soviet people deserved a better system than the system they had. And he was going to make it happen not by war, but by peace, by showing the power of democracy," Powell said Sunday during a television interview.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) said that among Reagan's many legacies, "he restored America's pride in the men and women who wear the military uniform."

Reagan's political opponents also offered praise.

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale (search) hearkened back to a day when campaigns were more civilized. In the 1984 contest for the White House, challenger Mondale remembered Reagan as someone who aimed to "get elected with a strong majority of Americans that would allow him to unite the country and go in the direction he wanted to go."

Still, Mondale said, "In the campaign, there was no meanness. There was no viciousness. There was no kind of personal attacks or that sort of thing."

Reagan won 49 of the 50 states, the largest landslide since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first re-election, in 1936 over Kansan Alf Lando.