Former U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who died last week at the age of 88, was buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington. His funeral at a nearby chapel was attended by numerous dignitaries, including Vice President Dick Cheney and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Solemn music played as a military honor guard brought Mr. Weinberger's casket into the chapel. Prayers were said and three eulogies were delivered.
Among those who spoke was the current U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who called Mr. Weinberger a friend and said he was the kind of man who always made clear where he stood on any issue. Secretary Rumsfeld credited Mr. Weinberger with helping the West win the Cold War when he was defense secretary under President Reagan in the 1980s.
"When President Reagan nominated Cap to that post, the Soviets mistakenly assumed that because he was charming, which he was, he would be malleable. They learned differently. Soviet ambassador [Anatoly] Dobrinin would eventually tell Moscow, with some dismay, that Weinberger supported all of Reagan's statements on foreign policy, without reservation, except that he tended to make them sound even tougher," he said.
Secretary Rumsfeld said Mr. Weinberger was a valued adviser even in recent years.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a retired Army general, also spoke at the funeral. He offered numerous personal stories about Mr. Weinberger, whom he served more than 20 years ago as a military aide. And he said that while Mr. Weinberger played a key role in standing up to the Soviet Union, and in rebuilding the U.S. military after the Vietnam War, he also did something less tangible but, for Secretary Powell, equally important.
"Yes, he got additional funding. Yes, he helped us buy the weapons system that made our army the best in the world. Yes, he got the funding that made the all-volunteer force a success. Yes, he created the armed forces that is still performing so brilliantly 25 years later. But what he really did for those of us in uniform was to tell us that once again we were respected, we should be proud," he said.
Secretary Powell also made the funeral's one brief apparent reference to the Iran-Contra scandal that ended Mr. Weinberger's career. He was not directly involved in the illegal scheme, but he was indicted for withholding material from prosecutors and congressional investigators, and then pardoned by the first President Bush before his case went to trial. Secretary Powell said Caspar Weinberger loved America "to the depths of his heart and soul. He loved it in his triumphs and in the one moment of his despair."