Reagan Trip

June 2004

Part One

* * * Part One * * * Part Two  * * * Part Three * * *

This long story began a short two months after the last installment. It was 

June 5th, and I was next door watching TV at my grandparents' house. Casually, 

my grandfather turned on the news, only to be startled by what lay ahead. The 

newscaster announced that former President Reagan had passed away at his 

home in California. Reagan was my favorite president, and I was taken aback. 

The newscaster also announced that he would lie in state at the Capitol in 

Washington D.C. Anxiously, I ran back to my house, my heart beating wildly. 

When I entered, I found my dad on the couch and told him the news. He 

appeared surprised as well. Later that night, I sat down with my parents and 

they asked me if I wanted to go see President Reagan lie in state. Again with the 

questions! Of course I want to go! So it was settled. My dad and I would travel 

down to D.C. for a day or so to pay our respects. Simple, right?

Complications set in the next day. My dad was playing football when he

broke his arm. I was devastated! I knew that the trip would be cancelled now. It 

was all over. Not wanting to crush my hopes, my dad said that he would see how 

the week went. Each day, this trip seemed further and further from becoming 

reality. Time was being wasted. We weren’t packed. Crowds were huge. Some of 

my relatives said that we could be driving to our deaths. And then on June 9th, 

to top it all off, a plane flew over the Capitol. The Secret Service evacuated the 

entire Capitol, a major setback. It turned out that the plane was not that of a 

terrorist, but of the Governor of Kentucky. At this point, my dad came upstairs 

and told me that we weren’t going to go. Crushed, I then went to bed near tears, 

and didn’t sleep well at all.

The first thing I did the next morning was go on the computer and look up 

the governor of Kentucky. His name was Ernie Fletcher, and he became my 

least favorite person on the planet. Shortly afterward, I had to leave for school,

and that was the end of the matter for the moment. At 11 o’clock, after a 

dreadful morning of schoolwork, it was time for recess. When I went out, I forgot 

had some scissors in my pocket and went to return them to the teacher. When I 

reached the room, my teacher said I needed to go down to the office. I rushed 

out of the room, and ran down to the main foyer, only to see my dad standing 

there. “What are you doing here?!” I asked him nervously. “We’re going to D.C.” 

he said! That right there, was probably the most exciting moment in all of my life.

When we reached the car, I saw that he had packed me a day or so’s worth 

of clothes. “Do you have any maps of D.C. on you?” he asked me. I opened my 

backpack to show him it was completely filled with books on that subject.

The drive to D.C. took over eight hours. It was a very interesting experience 

to say the least. Driving halfway down the East Coast, we went through a lot of 

radio stations along the way as they would fade when we drove too far from their 

sources. This resulted in a lot of dial-turning and my dad driving with his knees 

because one was controlling the radio and one was incapacitated. I guess I was 

not really in too much danger, but it's still something that cautious nine-year-olds 

don't want to go through. At least it adds to the story now.

Around 7:20 p.m. we reached the outskirts of the city. We decided we 

needed to deal with a crucial issue before heading to the Capitol: We needed to 

locate a hotel! Luckily, my dad had the address of the Courtyard Marriott we 

stayed at the previous year. By pure chance, they had several vacancies. 

We quickly booked ourselves a room to stash the luggage in and took a taxi to 

our destination. Upon exiting our cab, we took a spot in the gigantic line of 

people that were there for the same purpose as we. I had anticipated it would 

take us around an hour to reach President Reagan’s coffin, the way the line was 

going. Little did I suspect that the two of us would be waiting in that line for five

long hours. The line was moving at a fairly decent pace, buy my judgement 

was all wrong. The closer we got, the easier it was to see that the line was twelve 

times longer than I originally assumed. Conveniently, that night was insanely

humid and everyone was sweating non stop. When the line passed by Garfield  

Circle, we noted the hundreds of dead cicadas lining the street. Cicadas are one 

of the world’s most repulsive insects, and they don’t seem any more inviting 

dead than alive. Luckily, we had to put up with the cicadas for about only ten 


After being thoroughly checked by security, we finally made our way 

through the Capitol’s grand entrance. Not long after, we found ourselves in the 

rotunda, and the loud chatter of the crowd suddenly became an awkward 

silence. There before us all lay one of the the greatest leaders America had ever 

known. As we slowly circled around the casket, I temporarily became distracted 

by the majesty of the rotunda itself. Thankfully, I was quickly brought back to 

Earth by my dad, who realized that the whole purpose of the trip wasn’t the 

center of my attention. Then, in a blink of an eye, we were at the exit. It was all 

over. No more heckling, no more dreams crushed, no more setbacks. We had 

accomplished our goal. It was past 2:00 a.m.

After taking a cab to a local 7Eleven, we walked up Connecticut Avenue, 

passed an eerie green statue of George McClellan, and into our hotel room. 

When I reached my bed, despite the adrenaline rush I had, I just flat out 

crashed. It had been a long day, filled with many varying emotions, and was one 

of the best days of my life.

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