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Nation, Nevada say farewell to Harry Reid

Associated Press

A military honor guard carries the casket of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during his memorial service at the Smith Center on Saturday.

On Saturday, Harry Reid received a sendoff befitting the most powerful lawmaker to ever come from Nevada, going from Searchlight to Senate majority leader.

Taking place at the Smith Center, there were numerous national figures attending the funeral service; along with some supporters and detractors making their voices heard outside.

President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Steve Sisolak, and former President Barack Obama all spoke at the service.

“If he gave you his word, he kept it, you could bank on it,” Biden said. “That's how he got so much done for the good of the country for so many decades.”

Longtime Nevada political commentator Steve Sebelius, the government and politics editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said Biden and Reid knew each other well from their years together in the Senate and Biden’s time as vice president.

Biden would say “Harry Reid has a spine of steel,” Sebelius recalled, “this is somebody who doesn't waver or bend when the going gets tough.”

Sebelius said Saturday’s memorial attracted a “who’s who of Nevada political life — past, present, and future,” including Republicans such as former Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller.

“There were a lot of people there who disagreed with Reid on a lot of issues, but who came to show respect,” Sebelius said.

Others came to spar one last time with the combative Reid, who was famously a boxer in his youth. Protesters, including one carrying a Confederate flag, gathered in Symphony Park, outside the Smith Center.

“It was mostly about how Democrats have supposedly taken away the rights,” said Nevada Public Radio producer Christopher Alvarez, who covered the memorial.

Uniform and plainclothes security kept the demonstrators away from the dignitaries and other mourners.

“It's always difficult to tell how many secret service agents are there because some are visible, and some are not,” said Nevada Public Radio reporter Yvette Fernandez.

Reid’s body is scheduled to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Steve Sebelius, government/politics editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal; ​​ Christopher Alvarez-Aguilar, producer, Nevada Public Radio; Yvette Fernandez, reporter, Nevada Public Radio

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