28 December 2006

Gerald R. Ford: In Memorial

"I was America's first instant Vice President, and now America's first instant President. The Marine Corps band is so confused, they don't know whether to play 'Hail to the Chief' or 'You've Come a Long Way, Baby'." - Gerald R. Ford

In early December, I started working on a biographical article on Ford, to be posted here when he passed away, but never finished it, thinking that I wouldn't be needing it so soon. Now it's too late for that. If you want to read a biographical article on President Ford, plenty abound now. I wanted to post something, though, to express my sadness at his passing and my gratitude for his leadership during a troubled time in our history.

“The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George Washington and by every president under the Constitution. But I assume the presidency under extraordinary circumstances, never before experienced by Americans.” So began President Gerald R. Ford’s presidency, with a “little straight talk among friends”. I have been a fan of President Ford for a number of years, ever since I downloaded his inaugral address from American Rhetoric. I was struck by the sincerity of his emotions, and the candor of his words. Soon thereafter I read his autobiography, A Time to Heal, and came away feeling personally connected to him. He became my favorite president other than FDR. To me, Ford wasn't representative of most politicians; he was a cut above them. He never aspired to be President -- his highest ambition was Speaker of the House. Before Spiro Agnew resigned, Ford was almost unknown to the American populace. I have read that Nixon, ever the politician, sought to take advantage of Ford's lack of celebrity -- that Nixon felt that the Congress would not risk a political unknown becoming president, and thus would be dissuaded from impeaching Nixon. Fortunately for America, Nixon was in error on that point. Ford took office and restored the White House, putting us on the road to recovery.

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