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Washington readies for solemn state funeral for President Ford

Washington readies for solemn state funeral for President Ford

A state funeral for Gerald R. Ford will return him to the U.S. Congress that he served on his way to an unplanned and unelected presidency.
Ford, who died on Tuesday at the age of 93, will be honored like 10 other presidents at the Capitol Rotunda. But he also will lie in repose outside the chambers of the House of Representatives _ where he honed his leadership skills _ and the Senate, where _ as vice president _ he served in his constitutional role as the chamber's president.
Ceremonies begin Friday in a California church, followed by a flight across the country.
The state funeral will be conducted in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday evening. Ford will lie in state until Tuesday morning, in a closed casket. Then, his casket will be moved to the National Cathedral for a funeral service. Interment will follow the next day in Michigan.
Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House in 1974, becoming the only U.S. president never to be elected to the presidency or vice presidency, was remembered by lawmakers, former presidents and world leaders as a man whose courage and integrity helped heal a country reeling from public loss of confidence in the government.
"With his quiet integrity, common sense and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency," President George W. Bush said in a statement to the nation from his Texas ranch Wednesday. "The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his personal character and the honorable conduct of his administration."
"His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country," his wife, Betty, said in a statement.
Former President Jimmy Carter described him as "one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known." Former President Bill Clinton said, "all Americans should be grateful for his life of service." The former President George H.W. Bush said "Ford was, simply put, one of the most decent and capable men I ever met."
World leaders mourned his passing, and praised him for his role as a statesman.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Ford would be remembered for his support of the world body and the 1975 Helsinki process, which reaffirmed the importance of human rights in world affairs. The Helsinki Accord, which grew out of the process, was seen as the first recognition that human rights were fundamental to the conduct of international relations.
In London, the Union flag over Buckingham Palace, the residence of Queen Elizabeth II, was to fly at half-staff all day Thursday.
German President Horst Koehler offered his "deeply felt condolences" and described Ford as "a great American" who played an important role in advancing trans-Atlantic ties and as "one of the founding fathers of the world economic summits of the leading industrial nations."
Czech President Vaclav Klaus called Ford "an outstanding politician" whose work "was instrumental for freedom in my country and for the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe."
Ford was an accidental, as well as accident-prone, president.
A Michigan Republican, Ford was elected to Congress 13 times before becoming the first appointed vice president in 1973 after Spiro Agnew left amid scandal. He became the first vice president appointed under the 25th amendment to the Constitution.
Ford took office on Aug. 9, 1974, moments after Nixon resigned in disgrace rather than face impeachment over the Watergate scandal and went into exile. After a lengthy investigation by a special prosecutor and congressional hearings, Nixon admitted he had been aware of a cover-up of a burglary involving employees of his re-election campaign at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex. The probe uncovered widespread evidence of political espionage by Nixon's campaign committee and illegal wiretapping of opponents.
A month later, Ford granted Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. Some suggested the pardon was prearranged before Nixon resigned. But Ford, in an unusual appearance before a congressional committee in October 1974, said, "There was no deal, period, under no circumstances." The committee dropped its investigation.
The pardon, it was widely believed, contributed to Ford's losing election to a term of his own in 1976. But it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.
Ford's brief tenure in office was a difficult one, with the impact of the Watergate affair compounded by the U.S.'s defeat in the Vietnam War, which ended during his presidency with the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Ford was critical of the current war in Iraq. In an embargoed interview in 2004, Ford told the Post's Bob Woodward that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," Ford said, according to the Post. The former president said his comments could be published at any time after his death, Woodward said.
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On the Net:
http://www.ford.utexas.edu


Updated : 2021-07-25 23:42 GMT+08:00