AU Republicans pay last respects

Students remember, honor Reagan

Thousands of Americans filled the Capitol Rotunda June 9-11 to pay their respects to former President Ronald Reagan, who died June 5 at his home in California. Among the mourners were groups of AU students, as the Capitol was open all day June 10 to visitors.

"We waited in line for about three and a half hours," said Mike Inganamort, president of the AU College Republicans. "While we were in the Rotunda, we actually got to see President Bush and [First Lady] Laura Bush. It was really an incredible experience."

Inganamort went with five other College Republicans. He said other students also went throughout the day, some as part of an official trip with the College Republicans, and others on their own.

"We sent out a listserv giving people details about the event with the schedule and directions," Inganamort said. "We also sent out a commemorative listserv listing a number of Reagan's memorable quotes."

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was one of many world leaders who came to D.C. to pay their respects. Gorbachev was in D.C. in September 2003, when he spoke to the AU student body in Bender Arena, sponsored by the Kennedy Political Union.

Gorbachev reflected on his work with Reagan and Reagan's successor, former President George H.W. Bush, when he spoke Sept. 30.

"Through our joint efforts, we were able to stop the logic of the confrontation and to ... develop a new level of mutual understanding and trust in relations between our nations," Gorbachev said in September.

For those waiting in D.C.'s heat and humidity to see Reagan, the American Red Cross handed out more than 100,000 free bottles of water along the edge of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, according to Courtney Prebich, spokeswoman for the D.C. American Red Cross chapter.

"We had 75 people volunteering throughout the day and the night," Prebich said, adding that such involvement is typical of the chapter.

"We have teams in place for every Fourth of July. We had over 200 volunteers working over Memorial Day weekend in support of the World War II [Memorial] dedication," she said. "It was just a natural fit that we would help out at this event as well."

D.C. Emergency Services was also on hand in the heat.

Reagan's funeral was held at the National Cathedral on June 11, followed by his interment at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Inganamort said that the College Republicans will continue to honor the former president's legacy.

"Throughout the year, we are going to do things honoring Ronald Reagan, including working to re-elect President Bush, working with the Republican members of Congress and working to promote the Republican message on campus," Inganamort said.

"People our age ... never had to experience the threat of communism and we have Reagan to thank for that," he said. "For us Ronald Reagan is a historical figure and we pay tribute to him that way"

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