Byrd Honored With Week of Events
Services to Be Held in State, National Capitols
The body of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, who served an unprecedented 51 years in the Senate and held nearly every leadership position, will lie in repose in the Senate chamber Thursday before being honored in his home state of West Virginia and ultimately laid to rest in Arlington, Va.
A noted lover of history and the dean of the Senate, Byrd will be only the third Senator since World War II to lie in state in the Senate chamber.
A closed casket brought in by an honor guard will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, and it will stand atop the historic catafalque that was first used in 1865 for President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral. Chaplain Barry Black will deliver a prayer at 10:30 a.m., after which members of Byrd’s family will receive Members of Congress wishing to pay their respects. The public galleries will also be open for individuals who want to participate in the viewing.
Byrd, who died Monday morning after being admitted to the hospital last week for dehydration and heat exhaustion, will return to his home state Thursday night one last time for honorary festivities. A procession from the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston to the state Capitol will occur Thursday evening, followed by a public viewing that will spill into Friday morning in the West Virginia Capitol rotunda.
A memorial service and celebration of life will take place at the state Capitol at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Attendees will include President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Smaller remembrances have also been seen since Byrd’s death Monday. His desk in the Senate chamber is draped in black, as is his spot on the dais of the Armed Services panel. The chamber had a moment of silence Monday just hours after Byrd’s death, and Members from both chambers have taken to the floor this week to deliver honorary remarks.
Pelosi noted Byrd’s humble upbringing in rural West Virginia on Tuesday saying that his “story was the true embodiment of the American dream.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who after five terms in the Senate is now his state’s senior Member, said Byrd “served with an absolute insistence on the equality of the three branches of government as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”
Byrd’s body will return to the Washington area for a public funeral Tuesday at the Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington. The same church hosted the funeral of Byrd’s late wife, Erma Ora Byrd, in 2006. She is buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington.
Sen. Byrd reportedly visited his wife’s grave daily, and while his office did not release details, it is presumed he will be laid to rest next to her.