Weird History
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Every Person To Lay In State In The US Capitol

Updated December 3, 2018 31 items

Lying in state and lying in honor at the US Capitol are distinctions reserved for individuals that have given great service to the country. In the United States, when an individual is lain in state, their remains are placed in the rotunda of the US Capitol for a set period of time for public viewing. Only 31 individuals have lain in state since 1852, including politicians, statesmen, military veterans, and 11 former US presidents. Determining who gets to lay in state requires congressional approval or agreement, which is why the practice is so rare. 

People who have lain in state are considered to be representative of the best qualities of their country. Veterans, like John McCain, often receive the distinction. Unfortunately, remains are sometimes unidentifiable. In 1921, an unknown soldier from World War I laid in state for three days. Two unknown soldiers from the Korean War and World War II received the honor in 1958. Presidents who have lain in state include Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, but many of the founding fathers died before the practice was commonplace.

If you're wondering who has lain in state, you'll find a reverse chronological list of those who received the honor below. This list includes only individuals who have lain in state and not those who have lain in honor, a similar distinction reserved for non-government officials who served their country. Four individuals, including Billy Graham and Rosa Parks, were lain in honor in the Capitol after their deaths, but are not included below. 

  • George H. W. Bush
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    Date: December 3 - 5, 2018

    George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) was an American politician and businessman who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, Bush also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Director of Central Intelligence. Until his son George W. Bush became the 43rd president in 2001, he was usually known as George Bush. Bush postponed his university studies after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, and became one of its youngest aviators. He served until September...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 94 (1924-2018)
    • Birthplace: Milton, Massachusetts, United States of America
  • John McCain
    Photo: Kris Connor / Getty Images

    Date: August 31, 2018

    John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and military officer, who served as a United States senator from Arizona from January 1987 until his death. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for president of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama. McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and received a commission in the United States Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he almost died in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While on a bombing mission during...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 81 (1936 - 2018)
    • Birthplace: Coco Solo, Panama
    • Cause Of Death: Brain cancer
  • Daniel Inouye
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    Date: December 20, 2012

    Daniel Ken Inouye ( ee-NOH-ay; September 7, 1924 – December 17, 2012) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death in 2012. A member of the Democratic Party, he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate (third in the presidential line of succession) from 2010 until his death, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in US history. Inouye also chaired various Senate Committees, including those on Intelligence, Commerce and Appropriations. Inouye fought in World War II as part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment. He lost his right arm to a grenade wound and received several military decorations, including the...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 88 (1924-2012)
    • Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Cause Of Death: Respitory complications
  • Gerald Ford
    Photo: David Hume Kennerly / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Dates: December 30, 2006-January 2, 2007

    Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977. Before his accession to the presidency, Ford served as the 40th vice president of the United States from December 1973 to August 1974. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office by the Electoral College. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ford attended the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving from 1942 to...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 93 (1913-2006)
    • Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska
    • Cause Of Death: Cardiovascular disease