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Ford mourned in U.S. capital after California services

Ford mourned in U.S. capital after California services

Gerald R. Ford returned in death Saturday to the U.S. capital he served as president and congressman, his casket received with the muted pageantry he wanted for his farewell.
As night fell, an aircraft from the White House fleet brought the body of the 38th president to Andrews Air Force Base from services near his adopted California home, where mourners streamed past his casket in quiet remembrance of the even-keeled man summoned to the presidency in a time of national trauma 34 years ago.
Vice President Dick Cheney, Ford's chief of staff long ago, attended the brief arrival ceremony and was one of the pallbearers. The arrival opened the Washington portion of Ford's state funeral, with a route taking his casket past a World War II memorial, the White House and on to the U.S. Capitol for the first service and a lying in state that continues until Tuesday.
Among other pallbearers: Donald H. Rumsfeld, defense secretary for Ford and again, until recently, for President George W. Bush; former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan; and Ford's half brother, Richard.
The Capitol commemorated a man whose highest ambition, never realized in an era of Democratic control of Congress, was to the Republican leader of the House of Representatives.
History intervened; he became vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned in scandal, then president when Watergate shattered Richard Nixon's presidency. "A funny thing happened to me on the way to becoming" House leader, " he once cracked.
In Palm Desert, California, a 13-hour period of public viewing ended just as the sun rose over the resort community where Ford and his wife, Betty, settled nearly 30 years ago. People waited up to three hours to pay their respects at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church.
The funeral procession to the Capitol lacked the full trappings, by the design of Ford and his family. A motorcade was arranged instead of the horse-drawn caisson most familiar to Americans from the funerals of Ronald Reagan in 2004 and John Kennedy in 1963.
Ford, a man of modest character whose short presidency lacked the historic drama of Kennedy's and Reagan's, also was mourned without the riderless horse customarily included in the procession. Instead, Ford's procession included a stop at the war memorial, in joint tribute to the Navy veteran who saw action on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific theater and to his comrades in arms from that conflict.


Updated : 2021-08-03 18:54 GMT+08:00