On December 2nd Kimmy and I had the honor of going to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum while we were in Grand Rapids for our 11 year anniversary. I had never been to a Presidential Library or Museum so this was a different experience for me. I had hope that when we were in California in August that I would have gotten to go to Ronald Reagan’s, because I was really familiar with him and his Presidency. But it just didn’t work out for us to be able to go.
Having not known much about Gerald Ford and his Presidency, I thought that this would be a good learning experience. I knew that he had played for the University of Michigan’s football team and that his number 48 was one of only 2 numbers that they retired. But I did not know that he had been a part of 2 National Championship teams while playing there. Also, that he had been selected as the MVP of one of those teams. And as a Michigan fan, I think that is cool!
But in terms of his Presidency, I never really put it together that he was never even elected to that office. Either to be the Vice-President or the President. And he never even had those aspirations. He had only hoped to rise to the rank of being Speaker of the House. His ascension to the role of Vice-President was due in part to Spiro Agnew’s resignation. Which the statute that was used to replace the Vice-President was initiated by Richard Nixon, when he was a congressman during the Kennedy era, and he was the first President to use it. But what is interesting as that when you look at Gerald Ford’s ballot of his recommendations to the President, he listed Ronald Reagan as one of his nominees. And who was it in 1976 that went against the norm and campaigned for Presidency against the sitting President, Gerald Ford? None other than Ronald Reagan. It is speculated that because of that bitter campaign that it helped give Jimmy Carter the edge he need to win in 1976.
There is so much that I learned in that short little visit, but the biggest thing that I walked away with was a deep appreciation for Mr. Ford and his Presidency. He became President under such extreme circumstances and during a tumultuous time in my nation’s history, that his legacy of being the “Great Healer” is quite appropriate. While his decision to pardon Richard Nixon was and is controversial, I do not believe he did it to gain the office of Presidency. I think that his heart was pure and he did it solely to help the nation to move past all of the ugly stuff that was coming out.
Thank you, Mr. Ford for leading our nation and making it a better place. Thank you Mrs. Ford for your contributions to our nation and for sharing your husband with our nation. While I do not grieve any where near as hard as you will, know that you are not alone in your grief. A nation grieves with you.