Memorial services set for Sen. Byrd

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) will be buried next Tuesday in Arlington, Va.

The funeral will follow public ceremonies at the Capitol and in West Virginia for the Senate’s longest-serving member, who died at the age of 92 early Monday morning.

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Byrd will lie in repose in the Senate from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, with the floor open for House and Senate members who wish to pay their respects and the second-floor gallery open to the public.

Byrd’s body will then be flown to Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday night, where it will be the centerpiece of a memorial procession from a federal courthouse named in his honor to the State Capitol Rotunda, where it will be visible to the public for 12 hours, starting at 9 p.m. An hourlong memorial service will then be held at 11:30 a.m. on Friday at the state capitol. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to attend.

Byrd’s body will be flown back to Washington later Friday afternoon, and a funeral service has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, Va. Seating will be open to the public, but limited. Interment is private.

The events honoring Byrd are expected to play havoc with the Senate’s schedule. Votes are possible Thursday night, but a Friday session is doubtful, according to Senate aides.

A congressional delegation to Charleston is being planned, so many members will be outside Washington on Friday, said senior Senate aides.

Senate leaders said Byrd’s casket will be closed and the Senate will adjourn while the senator lies in repose. It is the first time a senator’s remains will have been laid in the chamber since former Sen. William Langer (R-N.D.) in 1959. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) also received the honor after his death.

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The senator’s casket will be escorted into the Senate by an honor guard and placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, a seven-foot wooden platform that supported the casket of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and has been used rarely since then for national dignitaries.

Byrd’s office said he will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Virginia alongside his wife Erma, who died in March 2006. The couple will be moved later and reburied in West Virginia once family members determine a location.

Much of Tuesday in the Senate was devoted to floor speeches in tribute to Byrd, and per Senate tradition, his second-row, aisle-side desk — in almost the exact center of the room — was covered in a black cloth and topped with a clear glass vase of white roses.

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