City paying respects to Julia Carson

Members of the Indiana National Guard prepare the caisson that will carry Julia Carson's body.

Indianapolis - Dignitaries from across the country are in Indianapolis to pay their respects to Julia Carson Friday. She will lie in repose at the Statehouse Rotunda until 10:00 pm Friday.

Governor Mitch Daniels calls the Statehouse the "people's house" - and found it a fitting scene for Carson's final day before burial because of her dedication to her constituents.

As Julia Carson made her way to the Indiana Statehouse for the last time, it was time for last respects. Hoosiers lined Capital Avenue as a horse-drawn military caisson carrying her casket passed by.

Governor Mitch Daniels, Lt Governor Becky Skillman and Rep Bill Crawford escorted her to the to rotunda where she became the ninth Hoosier to lie in repose at the Statehouse.

"It is right we are in the people's house to say goodbye to the people's best friend," said Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).

Then it was the family's turn.

"When you're talking about Julia Carson you're talking about an American icon, the people's champ. Here's a woman who came from non-traditional circumstances to do enormous and wonderful things. She was a believer, a strong believer, a Baptist woman in the Christian faith, yet she was universal enough to reach out and incorporate different religious faiths into her agenda and the people's agenda," said Andre Carson, her grandson. "Let's remember Congresswoman Carson by doing the people's work and fighting for those who don't have a voice."

Next was the people's turn. Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) said he was not surprised to see people lining up early. "People loved her," he said.

"Julia Carson did so much for this city, this state and this nation and people loved her and she loved them. This day is our way of saying thank you for giving your life to all of us and that is definitely what she did," said Sen. Billie Breaux (D-Indianapolis).

"She's my sister and my thoughts are an old song: 'After all the years, I can't bear the tears.' On the other hand if you believe, you know she is up there making wise cracks to Jesus," said Andy Jacobs, former Indiana Congressman.

Mayor Bart Peterson also made his way through the line in the people's house to pay last respects, along with all the other Hoosiers who, while they never held a title, are just as comfortable on this day in the people's house - just as Julia would want it.

Morning processionThe tribute began early this morning from Julia Carson's home on Park Avenue. Friends, family, and constituents joined together at 7:30 am for the procession through her neighborhood and downtown. Around 300 people took part.

The horse-drawn military caisson left the driveway of her home at 25th and Park Avenue, south to 22nd Street and west towards Capitol Avenue.

"I expected no less because she was a people person and the people, loved her and she truly loved the people," said Caron Dalton.

The people along the route showed their support with "I love Julia" signs and flags at half staff.

Chopper 13 shows the procession traveling down Capitol from 22nd Street. With military honors, she was escorted by the Indiana National Guard and Metro Police.

Her grandson says he believes Julia is there in spirit.

"She is thinking, 'My God, what is going on? Have these people go home! She was never really one for fanfare, but she just deserves this so much. That's the magnificent part about this - she never thought she deserved anything like this," said Sam Carson, Julia's grandson.

As the procession continued along Capitol, the people lining the streets said they were the ones who felt the honor just for being a part of a tribute to an extraordinary woman.

"It reminds me of people in greatness, people of greatness and someone like Julia who was herself but touched so many people. It's something you don't see every day. It's history. And I will never see it again," said Vickie Tipton.

State legislators and Mayor Elect Greg Ballard were all their to honor Carson.

"A great public servant. Did it for a long long time. And I'm a Marine. We pay respect to people who serve," said Ballard.

More Hoosiers joined in on the procession as the caisson made its way south towards the Statehouse.

"She was a great woman. Be missed," said one mourner.

Friend of the people

Carson was known as a compassionate advocate for the disadvantaged and least fortunate in the community.  She worked for children's issues, women's rights, and affordable housing for the poor.

"I am going because I remember Julia from years ago, she would always come and visit our church at Grace Apostale, and she's just always been an inspiration and I just think she's a wonderful lady."

"It's going to be thousands of people, so ya, I will pay my respects."

"I think she was a very important part of Indianapolis and if I get a chance to come over, I'd like to come over also."

Read tributes from other state and congressional leaders here.

Career notes

Carson began her political career 35 years ago, when her mentor, former Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr., encouraged his former aide to run for a seat in the state House of Representatives. That 1972 victory was the first of more than two dozen successful campaigns for legislative, local and congressional offices without ever suffering a defeat.

Carson, who was first elected to Congress in 1996, championed social issues such as women's rights, affordable housing and efforts to reduce homelessness. She worked in the late 1990s to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, for needy children.

She was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq and told hundreds of people at a rally in downtown Indianapolis just weeks before the 2003 invasion that it was an act of aggression only to protect U.S. oil interests.

She had been away from Washington since late September and announced last month that she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Saturday funeral plans

The funeral for Julia Carson takes place at the Eastern Star Church at 5730 East 30th Street at 10:00 am Saturday. It is expected to last up to three hours. A procession will leave the church around 2:00 pm for Crown Hill Cemetery.

Procession motorcade route:

West on 30th Street to Emerson Ave.
North on Emerson to 38th Street.
West on 38th Street to Capitol Ave.
South on Capitol Ave to 34th Street.
West on 34th Street to the main entrance to Crown Hill Cemetery.

Downtown maps

This story compiled from live reports by Lynsay Clutter and Kevin Rader.