As an officer of the United States Navy during World War II, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander, Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. could not have known he would be a popular twelve term Congressman from Michigan, nor did he aspire to be the President of the United States. But Ford had an appointment with destiny and with history. Over time, his colleagues and political opponents came to describe Ford as a moral man of great integrity who possessed an unparalleled sense of duty.
The “Accidental President,” was so named after he was sworn in following Watergate and numerous other scandals that rocked the Nixon Administration. With the conflict in Vietnam still costing thousands of American lives and revelation after revelation about corruption and political chicanery in the Washington Post, combined with the resignation of then-Vice President Spiro Agnew in abject disgrace, Nixon needed a man who could be confirmed by the Democrat-led US Senate. He needed a designated hitter to save America’s sense of self.
Gerald Ford’s brief tenure as President was marked by pragmatism, realism and a moral and principled core. He managed America’s disgust with the Nixon administration and our grief over the Vietnam War. In a speech to the nation immediately following his swearing the Oath of Office, President Ford eloquently remarked: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me with your prayers.”
Honesty, simplicity and modesty marked Gerald Ford’s life and career. Beginning at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California, the State Funeral will reflect his career as a Congressman, as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, his personal sense of humility, as well as the military honors befitting a Navy Officer and Commander in Chief. Led by Military District Washington (MDW), the Joint Force Headquarters of the National Capital Region will coordinate logistics and render honors under the direction of Major General Guy Swan, III, Commanding General of MDW.
The ceremonial units of the Honor Guard are comprised of the US Army 3rd Infantry Old Guard, the US Navy Ceremonial Guard, the US Air Force Honor Guard, the US Marine Corps from Marine Barracks 8th & I, and the US Coast Guard Ceremonial Guard. These units are permanent commands in Military District Washington, populated by expertly trained individuals whose presence guided the State Funerals of Presidents Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and most recently President Ronald Reagan in 2004.