W.Va. memorial for Byrd scheduled for Friday

June 29, 2010
  • Leah C. Brewer, nominations and hearings clerk, prepares the vacant seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., on Tuesday before the start of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing for Gen. David Petraeus.
Associated Press,

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia will hold a public memorial service for the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd on Friday at the state Capitol.

Gov. Joe Manchin's office says the body of Byrd will lie in repose at the Capitol's Lower Rotunda from 9 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.

Manchin spokeswoman Sara Payne Scarbro says the public is welcome to pay respect to Byrd during the 12-hour overnight viewing.

A public procession is planned Thursday evening. Scarbro says details haven't been worked out.

Friday's service will be held at the Capitol's North Plaza.

Byrd's office declined to comment.

Byrd died early Monday at 92.

Prior to the West Virginia viewing, Byrd's casket will lie in repose in the U.S. Senate chamber in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Byrd was fond of saying that he loved the institution of the Senate more than its members. He was the unquestioned expert on the Senate's bewildering rules and traditions, and he was the longest-serving member of Congress in history. He was third in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


Law enforcement officials and a Senate aide said Byrd's casket will lie in repose in the Senate chamber, rather than the Capitol Rotunda.

There is ample precedent for such ceremonies, but none has occurred since North Dakota Republican William Langer's funeral in 1959, according to the Senate Historian's Office.

Including Langer, 46 senators have lain in repose in the Senate chamber. One additional funeral, the first, was held there for a New Yorker who never was a senator: George Clinton, Thomas Jefferson's second vice president, lay in repose on April 21, 1812.

Others include South Carolina's John C. Calhoun in 1850, Kentucky's Henry Clay in 1852 and Wisconsin's Joseph McCarthy in 1957.


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