As lying in state has finished for former President George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41) and is on his way back to Houston for his final burial, there has been some mention in the news that only 12 people had lain in state, and no details given as to who they were.
Bush 41 lain in state December 3-5, 2018. He became the 13th president lying in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
I know you can look it up and search it on the Internet, but I wanted do some research into this and provide some more details from a few more sources othe r than pulling down the PDF file (link below) listing who they were and get into some of the policies and politics that go into who gets the honor of lying in state.
Since the practice started in 1852, 33 people, including 13 presidents and four Unknown Soldiers from WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War have been extended the honor to lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. (Bush 41 is included in these figures).
The first person to have this honor bestowed upon him was not a president, but the Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, in 1852.
According to information from the Architect of the Capitol (AOC):
Clay was a member of the House of Representatives for five non- consecutive terms (1811-25). He served as Speaker of the House in 1811-14, 1815-20 and 1823- 25. He was Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. Clay also served as U.S. Senator from Kentucky intermittently for 18 years between 1806 and 1852. He died June 29, 1852, in Washington, D.C. during the 32nd Congress, 1st Session, becoming the first person honored by a funeral ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. No resolution.
Clay was part of the group automatically honored by lying in state. He was a congressman, and was a senator when he died. He didn’t need a resolution from Congress to lie in state. That’s what “no resolution” above means.
So who gets the honor to lay in state and what are the requirements regarding who can lay in state in the rotunda of the US capital?
|Lying in State Time Lapse|
|Published on Sep 28, 2018
The Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay final tribute to its most eminent citizens by having their remains lay in state (in the case of government officials and military officers) or in honor (in the case of private citizens). When the Arechitect of the Capitol is notified that a ceremony will occur, teams are coordinated across the Capitol campus and a commitment to excellence ensures that no detail is overlooked.
Requirements For Lying In State
Lying in state is considered a rare honor that can only be authorized by either a congressional resolution or approved by the congressional leadership, and with the permission of the survivors according to the AOC.
Not everyone given this honor have had it accepted by their surviving family members.
That honor, based on regulation and custom, is not automatic except for presidents and former presidents. Others who may be granted lying in state include military commanders and members of Congress, and other eminent Americans, such as Rosa Parks and Billy Graham.
The person lying in state is guarded by a member of each branch of the military, and in many cases such as the president and war heroes, the military will take the responsibility to move the casket in and out of the Rotunda. If they are lying in honor, then the guarding is done by the capitol police. I’ll have more on lying in honor below.
The group responsible for setting up a person lying in state is the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). The AOC is made up of about 2,300 people who maintains all the buildings and grounds of the United States Capitol. And part of their responsibility is to set up everything needed if a person is to lay in state in the US Capitol building. https://www.aoc.gov
Another organization in the government also responsible for funerals is the U.S. State Funeral (National Capital Region).
The evolution of state funerals goes back to the first one done when Benjamin Franklin died, followed then by general and the first U.S. president, George Washington.
According to the U.S. State Funeral:
Funeral services of great magnificence evolved as customs (from what is known about early Christian mourning) in the 6th century. To this day, no religious ceremonies are conducted with more pomp than those intended to commemorate the departed. The funerals of service members, more than any other ceremony, have followed an old tradition as the living honor the brave dead.
To read the history of the funerals conducted by the United States government starting with Benjamin Franklin, you can go directly to the “Evolution of State Funerals” page.
Lain In Honor & Repose
Congress also created a similar, though not identical privilege for distinguished Americans who do not qualify for the lying in state designation. This process is called “lying in honor.” When lying in honor, the person can either be lain in the Rotunda, or for example, in the Senate Hall or House Chamber. Other places that were used for lying in honor include the Chamber of Commerce.
Lying in repose is something that is done for Supreme Court justices, and they are lain in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court. But not just supreme court justices are laying in repose. For example, former president Richard M. Nixon was lain in repose in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. The pallbearers consisted of eight members of the military and according to police, even due to the severe weather they estimated that 50,000 people visited Nixon, spending 18 hours in line to see him. And according to police, even due to the severe weather they estimated that 50,000 people visited Nixon, spending 18 hours in line to see him.
So not all presidents will want to be lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Many other presidents have also chosen there a library to lay and reprose. Even former President Ronald Reagan, after lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, was transferred to his the library where he also lain in state. Since he went from the Capitol Rotunda to his library, it was a continuation of lying in state.
According to an article in the New York Times, (George Bush is lying in state. Here’s what that means) even the president himself can request, via advance notice or by a Will that he does not want to be lying in state. In the article, President Harry S. Truman decided he did not want to lie in state because he “hated those big ceremonies,” said Steve Livengood, Director of public programs and chief guide at the United States Capitol Historical Society. He told the New York Times, “He knew his wife never wanted to be first lady and hated Washington and she would have to live through his funeral.”
From the US House of Representatives History, Art and Archives, they have an updated list of all those who have lain in state for honor on their website, which now includes an increase or former president George Herbert Walker Bush.
The Lincoln Catafalque
The Lincoln Catafalque was first used when President Abraham Lincoln, the second person and first president to be lain in state is simply a bier constructed of pine boards covered with fabric.
Since it’s construction, it has been used by most who were lying in state and even lain in honor. Former president George Herbert Walker Bush was placed upon Lincoln’s Catafalque.
When not in use, it is put in a special display in the Exhibition Hall of the Capitol Visitor’s Center. It is maintained by the AOC.
Lain in Repose (Great Hall, Supreme Court)
The following short list are the names of the Supreme Court justices that or Lain in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court:
- 1974 – Chief Justice Earl Warren
- 1993 – Justice Thurgood Marshall
- 1995 – Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
- 1997 – Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.
- 1999 – Justice Harry A. Blackmun
- 2005 – Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the first so-honored to have died in office.
- 2016 – Justice Antonin Scalia, died in office.
Lain in State or Honor (Capitol Rotunda)
State Funeral Ceremonial Tradition
The following below has been taken directly from the US State Funeral National Capitol Region’s website. It is in list form what it takes and what happens to make a state funeral happy. You can take a look at the entire webpage that has a lot more information at State Funeral Ceremonial Tradition.
The following list identifies the customary elements of a state funeral.
NOTE: This does not reflect the schedule for every state funeral. Each presidential family tailors the funeral to their wishes.
- Formal notification of demise to all branches of government, foreign countries and the public.
- Repose in home state
- Movement to Washington, D.C.
- Repose at the National Cathedral in its Bethlehem Chapel
- Casket transfer from hearse to horse-drawn caisson at the intersection of 16th Street and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.
- Main funeral procession along Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.
- Lying in state at the U.S. Capitol
- National funeral service in Washington, D.C.
- Movement to final resting place
- Private funeral service and interment
Explanation of Special Terms
- Repose – The remains lie in one or more selected places for public viewing (e.g. church, presidential library or museum). This also includes appropriate arrival and departure ceremonies.
- Lying in state – The remains lie in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol allowing the public to pay their respects. Appropriate arrival and departure ceremonies are included.
NOTE: Lying in state occurs in the U.S. Capitol ONLY.
- Casket Transfer – At 16th Street and Constitution Avenue, the remains are transferred by Armed Forces body bearers from a hearse to a horse-drawn caisson for movement to the U.S. Capitol to begin or end the main funeral procession.
- Main Funeral Procession – Moves along Constitution Avenue.
- Composition of Main Funeral Procession (in order of march):
- Police escort
- Military units, including federal service academies, Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, and military bands
- Cortege – the segment of the main funeral procession in a state funeral that includes, in order of march:
- Special honor guard
- Honorary pallbearers
- National color
- Armed Forces body bearers
- Presidential color
- Caparisoned horse
Information gathered from Army Pamphlet 1-1 and historical documents.
For more information on state funerals, visit www.jfhqncr.northcom.mil.
George McGinn is an award-winning Pulitzer Prize Finalist reporter and photographer who worked 44+ years in print media in the New York Metropolitan Area, statewide in Florida. He was the photo editor for the Venice Gondolier, covered the crime and courts beat for the North Port and Charlotte Sun newspapers, covering police, fire and EMS. He was also their investigative reporter. McGinn also wrote nationally for The Digital Journal, and photographer for Getty Images and National Geographic. He was awarded Master Photographer by the IFPO and was inducted into the IFPO Photographer’s Hall of Fame. McGinn’s degree is in Computer Science, and is also a science writer and an Astronomer, Cosmologist and researcher. His current work is in Internet of Things (IoT) and writing Apps for mobile devices that interfaces with mainframe systems.