En route to his California burial, the 40th President is flown over Tampico, Ill.

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 14, 2004 08:00 AM

The 747 carrying Ronald Reagan’s casket – along with his widow Nancy, members of his family and such dignitaries as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – did a quick flyover of the 40th President’s childhood home of Tampico, Ill., Time magazine reports.

“Quick, get Ron and Patti to take a look,” said Mrs. Reagan, referring to her two children as the aircraft sailed over a small town surrounded by a sea of green farm crops.

“A lot of corn,” said Mrs. Reagan.

Shortly before 3 p.m. ET on Friday, Ronald Reagan left Washington for the last time, as the plane took him home to California for a sunset burial before 700 family members, close friends and associates.

Prior to that, world leaders gathered in Washington’s National Cathedral for the state funeral. Former presidents Bill Clinton, the elder George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford all sat near one another, each accompanied by his wife. Sitting across the aisle, closest to Nancy Reagan, was President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush, and, near them, Vice-President Dick and Lynn Cheney.

During his 15-minute eulogy, the current President, referring to his predecessor’s decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, said: “We lost Ronald Reagan only days ago but we have missed him for a long time. It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell, yet it is still very sad and hard to let him go.”

Added the President: “Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us.”