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Richard and Pat Nixon

The 37th President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon, died on April 22, 1994, at age 81, after suffering a stroke four days earlier. A funeral followed on April 26 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. In keeping with his wishes, his funeral was not a state funeral, though his body did lie in repose in the Nixon Library lobby prior to the funeral services.[1]

President Nixon suffered a fatal stroke on April 18 at his New Jersey home and was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.[2] After an initial favorable prognosis, Nixon slipped into a deep coma and died on April 22. His body was flown to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Orange County, California via SAM 26000, the presidential plane used as Air Force One while Nixon was in office.[3] It was transported to the Nixon Library and laid in repose. A service was held that evening, attended by world dignitaries, the president and first lady of the United States, and all four living former presidents and first ladies. Nixon's wife, former first lady Pat Nixon, had died ten months earlier.

This was the first funeral for an American president since that of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, which Nixon presided over during his presidency.

Contents

Death and tributes

Richard Nixon suffered a massive stroke at his Park Ridge, New Jersey, home while preparing to eat dinner on Monday, April 18 at 5:45 PM EDT.[4] An ambulance was called and he was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. He was conscious but unable to speak, and his vision was impaired.[5] It was determined that a blood clot resulting from his heart condition had formed in his upper heart, then broke off and traveled to his brain. His condition was determined to be stable the following day,[2] as he was alert but unable to speak or move his right arm and leg.[4] Nixon's prognosis was hopeful, and he was moved from the intensive care unit into a private room. His condition worsened that Tuesday night, however, complicated by symptoms of cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain.[4] Nixon's living will stipulated that he was not to be placed on a ventilator to sustain his life.[4] On Thursday, Nixon sank into a coma and the former president died at 9:08 PM on Friday, April 22.[4][5] His daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower were by his side.[4]

Bill Clinton, then President of the United States, announced Nixon's death in the White House Rose Garden and proclaimed a National Day of Mourning for April 27th. Clinton said Nixon was, "a statesman who sought to build a lasting structure of peace" and praised his "desire to give something back to this world."[4] Clinton said that he was "deeply grateful to President Nixon for his wise counsel."[4] Tributes also came from former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.[4] Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Senator George McGovern (who ran against Nixon in 1972), former Senator Howard Baker, Senator Robert Dole, Senator John McCain, and Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy also reflected on Nixon's death.[4]

Events in California

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Transportation to the Nixon Library

Following the news of Nixon's death, tributes were placed at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California, the site of his birthplace.[3] On April 26, the casket was placed into VC-137C SAM 26000, a member of the presidential fleet used as Air Force One while Nixon was in office, and flown to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Orange County, California.[3] The body was transported in a motorcade, by hearse, to the Nixon Library.

Lying in repose

Nixon's funeral on April 27, 1994 was attended by then incumbent U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by former U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, with Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush respectively.

Carried by eight military pallbearers representing all branches of the United States military, Nixon's body was placed in the library lobby and lay in repose from the afternoon of Tuesday, April 26 to the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27.[3] Despite severe rain, police estimated that roughly 50,000 people waited in lines up to 18 hours to walk past the casket and pay their respects.[3]

Funeral service

The funeral service was held on Wednesday, April 27 on the grounds of the Nixon Library. The service was attended to by over 4,000 people, including family members, President Bill and Mrs. Clinton, President George H.W. and Mrs. Bush, President Ronald and Mrs. Reagan, President Jimmy and Mrs. Carter, and President Gerald and Mrs. Ford.[3] Former Vice President Spiro Agnew also attended. A Congressional delegation consisting of over one hundred members was present, and a foreign diplomatic corps of over two hundred.[3] The service was officiated by the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham, a friend of Richard Nixon's, who called him "one of the most misunderstood men, and I think he was one of the greatest men of the century."[4] Eulogies were delivered by Graham, Henry Kissinger, Senator Bob Dole, Pete Wilson, Governor of California, and President Clinton.[3] Dole could not hold back his tears at the end of his speech, a rare show of emotion in public for the Senator.

Following the service, Nixon was laid to rest beside his wife, Pat, who had died on June 22, 1993. They are buried only steps away from Richard Nixon's birthplace and boyhood home.

The funeral was the last major public appearance of Ronald Reagan, whose affliction with Alzheimer's disease was announced later that year.[6]

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Reagan funeral: Schedule of events". BBC. June 11, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3783085.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-18.  
  2. ^ a b Perez-Pena, Richard (April 19, 1994). "Nixon 'Stable' After Stroke At His Home". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E2DC1431F93AA25757C0A962958260. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Funeral Services of President Nixon". Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation. http://www.nixonlibraryfoundation.org/index.php?src=gendocs&link=RNfuneral. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Weil, Martin and Eleanor Randolph (April 23, 1994). "Richard M. Nixon, 37th President, Dies". The Washington Post: p. A01. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/watergate/stories/nixobit.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  5. ^ a b Black, Conrad (2007), p. 1051
  6. ^ PBS.org excerpt from Lou Cannon biography of Reagan

References and further reading

  • Black, Conrad (2007). Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 9781586486747.  

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