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Washington Cathedral, a 'National House of Prayer'

Former President Reagan's state funeral is being held at the Washington National Cathedral, which towers over the nation's capital. Bishop John Bryson Chane, the dean of the cathedral, says it was created as "a national house of prayer for all people." NPR's Steve Inskeep reports.

It's the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, with a central tower that is the highest point in Washington, D.C. "I think for a lot of people it's a sign of stability and hope... When you drive up and see it, it's huge," Chane says. "And for all of us that's a symbol of permanence in a time that we live in where there's not a lot of permanence."

Chane says state funerals serve as both civic and religious events. Reagan's funeral will be a simple ceremony, at the family's request. It's "not only an event for the nation, where people can really find closure and say their goodbyes, but it's also a time for the family to do that," Chane says.

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Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.