President Bush pays his respects to former President Reagan later Thursday. He will join thousands who have come to the U.S. Capitol, where Mr. Reagan's body lies in state.

Thousands of Americans continue to file slowly past the flag-draped coffin in the Capitol Rotunda.

They are from all walks of life, young and old, and coming from near and far.

Many waited in line for hours in the hot, humid weather for the opportunity to spend only about a minute before Mr. Reagan's casket. But for them, it was worth the wait.

Noel, a native of India, drove up from New Jersey for the day.

"He was the greatest president we ever had so far that I know of," he said. "He did so much for this country. He eliminated, you could call it, communism, and he brought confidence to the government and to the people. To me, he will always be a hero."

Nick, who is retired from the military, came from nearby Virginia.

"He was my commander-in-chief, so I have to salute him one more time, pay honor and tribute to a great man," he said.

Angela, from Maryland, which is also near the capital, came not only to honor the former president, but also his wife, Nancy, who spent the last decade as his caregiver during his battle with Alzheimer's disease.

"I had someone in my family dealing with Alzheimer's," she said. "So I understand what she has gone through, what the family has gone through."

A number of U.S. officials also came to pay their respects, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom Mr. Reagan nominated to the high court in 1981.

Officials expect more than 150,000 people to file past Mr. Reagan's casket by Friday morning, when a funeral service will take place at the National Cathedral.

President Bush, who plans to pay his respects at the Capitol upon his return from the G8 summit in Georgia Thursday evening, will be among those delivering eulogies at the funeral service.

After the funeral, Mr. Reagan's body will be flown back to California for a sunset burial at his presidential library.