Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to former President Gerald Ford at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday and Monday before a memorial service on Tuesday at Washington National Cathedral. Mr. Ford died last week at the age of 93. Jeff Swicord talked to a few of the people waiting in line early Sunday morning to pay their respects to the late former president.
They have come from near and far to pay tribute to the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford. People like Joe Guarino from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. "We were in town and I wanted to see President Ford. He seemed to be a very upstanding individual who came up the hard way."
Mr. Ford became president in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned because of the Watergate political scandal.
The lines began to form on this chilly, winter morning at 5:00 a.m. The U.S. Park Service estimates there are fewer people in attendance today than when former President Reagan lay in state in 2004. But many braved the hour-long wait in the cold with the sense of duty and tradition that comes with American citizenship.
Harry Reynolds drove eight hours in his car from the state of Ohio to Washington to pay his respects. "We were here for Reagan's funeral and started a tradition. And we plan on being here for everybody, out of respect for the office," he said.
Others were more philosophical. Al Felzenberg is an American history professor at Princeton University in the state of New Jersey. "I think he is one of those presidents that will be remembered more for who he was, rather than what he did. He didn't have a great deal of time, but brought a great deal of decency and respect to the office."
Mr. Ford's flag-draped coffin will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda until early Tuesday when the late president's remains will be moved to the Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service. President Bush has designated Tuesday as a national day of mourning.