Current and past presidents, dignitaries, and foreign leaders gathered at Washington National Cathedral Tuesday to pay tribute to former President Gerald Ford. Mourners lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral precession passed by and Jeff Swicord spoke with some of them.
The crowd began to gather early in the morning at Washington National Cathedral to honor the 38th president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford. Americans from all walks of life were in attendance. Dignitaries, such as Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, and ordinary people, like Mildred Marie Hall, who did not know the ceremony was “invitation only.” "I didn't have the ticket,” she said. “I thought it was open to the public and I didn't realize that we need a ticket to enter."
As the funeral precession made its way from the U.S. Capitol, the crowd outside the cathedral waited patiently in anticipation of Mr. Ford's arrival. A few anti-war protestors could be heard chanting down the street. But most of the people were gathered to pay tribute to the former president.
Emily Elsner Twesme lives in the neighborhood. "It's a patriotic thing to do,” she says. “It is such an important thing to honor our presidents and it is important to be a part of, I mean this is a historical moment and we wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Mr. Ford served as a U.S. congressman from Michigan for 26 years. He was appointed vice president by former President Richard Nixon in 1973 after Spiro T. Agnew resigned in scandal. He became president in 1974 after Mr. Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate crisis. He served as president for two years and helped to heal the nation in a difficult time. But most Americans, such as Nino Kader, say he will be remembered more for the kind of person he was and the office he held, rather than any specific accomplishments.
"You don't get to see the pomp and circumstance of one of the most powerful countries in the world -- "the" most powerful countries in the world -- and this is one of those rare times when you actually get to see it."
This was the last official ceremony for Mr. Ford in Washington. There will be a public visitation and funeral in his hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he will be buried on Wednesday.