I've warned most of the readers that this blog may occasionally turn political. Today is the first time. But, this will be a gentle political commentary. President Ford is one of the first presidents I can remember. I remember the TV news sounding very scary in my earliest memories of Nixon. But, Gerry Ford always seemed like a nice, friendly guy when he would talk on TV. I also remember during this time the TV showed lots of soldiers getting off of planes and hugging there families. I remember watching my Mom watch the TV and cry. I know now that it was men returning from a war that few in the country wanted. I'm sure her tears were tears of relief.
I've greatly respected the way the President's funeral was conducted. While we have become accustomed to wealthy power brokers as President, we've been reminded by President Ford how a very modest citizen can rise to leadership with a life of hard work and remarkable character. I almost wept when hearing Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" being played as part of the ceremonies. How appropriate, I thought. This man who was abandoned as a child by his father, rose to leadership by attending public school, succeeding in athletics and finally being scholarshiped into college. If a man of such humble beginnings can overcome such a modest beginning, anyone can.
I have also grown to respect the stoic dignity of Betty Ford. What a burden it must be for a First Lady to allow such a multitude of strangers to intrude on this very personal moment. I was so impressed when her strong, All-American looking son Stephen wept openly on the steps of Congress while the frail and fragile former First Lady stood gazing at the President's casket with a focused gaze of resolve. Wow, what a woman it takes to endure this for our country.
The final thing I want to take away from this great man are two simple anecdotes. Its apparent what his sportsmanship and athleticism added to his political career. It was so evident in his character as a team player and leader. While in office he said that he had "many political adversaries but no political enemies." I wish we all would see our opponents as someone to be negotiated with instead of fought with. I wish our current government leaders would take this attitude. The other story was about his dog that had relieved himself in the White House. When the secret service man started to clean up the mess the President stopped him saying, "No man should have to clean up after another man's dog." Wow! So many people in our country are missing that type of personal responsibility and accountability. I hope we will all learn by Gerald Ford's example.
Thank You, Mr. President.