Former President Ford: Final Tributes
As you know--the U.S. markets were closed today in observance of the day of mourning and services for Former President Gerald Ford. By 4:00 pm, the state funeral had moved from Washington DC to Grand Rapids, Michigan where the 38th President will be laid to rest, tomorrow. According to the Associated Press, the marching band from the University of Michigan (his alma mater and where he became an All-American football player) greeted the White House jet carrying his casket.
Among those on the plane heading to Grand Rapids were Jimmy Carter, the Democrat who defeated Ford in 1976 and became his friend, and Carter's wife, Rosalynn. In Grand Rapids, which the Nebraska native adopted as his hometown and represented in Congress for a quarter century--Ford's Presidential Museum opened its doors for an 18-hour public viewing, that will stretch overnight, before his burial Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier today--Ford was honored with an elaborate service at the Washington National Cathedral. His coffin was taken there after lying in state at the U.S. Capitol. Ford held presidential office for 2-1/2 years after Richard Nixon resigned on August 9,1974 and was remembered as a great leader.
In his eulogy, President George W. Bush said, "In President Ford, the world saw the best of America and America found a man whose character and leadership would bring calm and healing to one of the most divisive moments in our nation's history." Bush's father, the first President Bush, opened the eulogies, calling Ford a "Norman Rockwell painting come to life" and piercing the solemnity of the occasion by cracking gentle jokes about Ford's reputation as an errant golfer. He said Ford knew his golf game was getting better when he began hitting fewer spectators.
Henry Kissinger, Ford's Secretary of State, paid tribute to his leadership in achieving nuclear arms control with the Soviets, in the first political agreement between Israel and Egypt and in helping to bring majority rule to southern Africa, among other achievements often overlooked in the modest man.
Former President Ford died on December 26, 2006, He was 93.