Final Farewell to President Ford - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/2/2007

Final Farewell to President Ford

President Bush escorts Mrs. Ford into the church. President Bush escorts Mrs. Ford into the church.
The former president lies in repose outside the Senate chamber Tuesday in Washington. The former president lies in repose outside the Senate chamber Tuesday in Washington.

 A funeral cortege carried the body of former President Gerald Ford to the National Cathedral in Washington Tuesday, ahead of his state funeral.

The motorcade traveled slowly past the White House on a brisk, sunny day.

Cannons sounded a 21-gun salute and the U.S. Navy band played "Abide with Me" as the body was carried from the Capitol to the motorcade.

White House staff lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue to honor Ford as the procession passed.

Ford's body was moved Tuesday morning from the Capitol rotunda to a spot outside the Senate chamber to symbolize his service as president of the Senate when he was vice president under Richard Nixon.

His state funeral was scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Tributes will be delivered by President George W. Bush, President George H.W. Bush, Ford's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and NBC journalist Tom Brokaw.

The 3700 attendees included the other two living former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and their wives.

Among the other attendees were former first lady Nancy Reagan; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessors Colin Powell, and James Baker; Chief Justice John Roberts; and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani.

After the service, Ford's remains will be flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he grew up. The public may view his casket at his presidential museum before a private funeral on Wednesday.

Monday, three presidents, dozens of dignitaries, and thousands of ordinary Americans paid their respects as Ford lay in state in the rotunda.

The president and first lady Laura Bush made a brief stop at the Capitol to stand at Ford's casket Monday afternoon after returning to Washington from their home in Crawford, Texas.

An estimated 2,000 people an hour filed past Ford's flag-draped coffin on Monday, the last day of viewing, with people lined up in the rain outside the Capitol throughout the afternoon.

Two of Ford's children greeted the strangers who had waited on a gloomy New Year's Day to honor their father.

"I was moved and touched," said one visitor, Karl Gilbert. "We've lost a great American. President Ford helped heal our nation and the family is still helping to heal our nation."

Near the day's end, officials cleared the rotunda so Ford's widow, Betty, and their children could visit.

Mrs. Ford, 88, maintained her composure as she sat at the side of the casket for several minutes, observing the changing of the honor guard, before walking to her husband's coffin and standing briefly in prayer.

Ford died December 26 at age 93. He led the United States from August 1974 to January 1977, after the Watergate scandal that forced Richard Nixon from office.

Ford, a Republican, was House minority leader when Nixon tapped him to replace Spiro Agnew as vice president after Agnew's no-contest plea to bribery charges.

When Watergate forced Nixon from power, Ford became the first U.S. president to take office without having been elected president or vice president.

His decision to give Nixon a blanket pardon provoked intense criticism, but Ford maintained that his action was necessary to help heal the nation. He lost the White House to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.

Source: CNN Newsource

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