President Bush bowed his head in silence Monday before the flag-draped casket of Gerald R. Ford, joining thousands of mourners who paid...
WASHINGTON — President Bush bowed his head in silence Monday before the flag-draped casket of Gerald R. Ford, joining thousands of mourners who paid their respects to the man who guided the nation after the tumultuous Watergate years.
Silence fell under the Capitol dome when the president and his wife, Laura, walked toward the casket, illuminated by spotlights and guarded at each corner by members of a military honor guard. The president, who will eulogize Ford today, said nothing during the brief, one-minute visit Monday.
As three days of public viewing drew to a close, Ford’s widow, Betty, returned to the Capitol and sat in the Rotunda for about 20 minutes with her three sons, her daughter and their spouses. She clutched the hand of son Michael. Son Steven helped her up when she walked over to the casket, touching it one last time.
Two of the former president’s grandchildren, Heather Vance and Tyne Vance Berlanga, embraced after they were overcome with emotion at the casket.
Day of mourning
Most federal government offices and courts closed today for national day of mourning in honor of President Ford. Only offices and installations deemed necessary for national security or defense or other essential public business will be open. No regular mail delivery or retail services at post offices; express mail deliveries will be made. Most U.S. financial markets, including New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Stock Market and American Stock Exchange, will not conduct trading operations.
Funeral plans (all times PST)
6:15 a.m.: Lying in State ends.
6:30 a.m.: Remains will depart Rotunda and will rest at Senate doors in honor of Ford’s service as vice president of United States and president of Senate. Motorcade then will proceed to Washington National Cathedral, passing White House.
7 a.m.: Remains will be received with ceremony at Washington National Cathedral.
7:30 a.m.: National funeral service begins.
8:30 a.m.: Remains will depart with ceremony from Washington National Cathedral. Motorcade will transport casket to Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
9:15 a.m.: Departure ceremony from Andrews.
10:15 a.m.: Body will arrive at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, Mich. Casket will be moved by motorcade to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, for private service.
11 a.m.: Remains will depart museum with ceremony and proceed to Grace Episcopal Church, East Grand Rapids, for private funeral service.
1 p.m.: Remains will be taken to Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum for private interment service.
1:30 p.m.: Interment service and burial.
The Associated Press
It was a rainy, overcast day, and people waited in line under umbrellas and parka hoods to say farewell to Ford, who died Dec. 26 at age 93.
Funeral services will be held today at Washington’s National Cathedral, where a bell will toll 38 times for the 38th president. Ford will be buried Wednesday at his presidential museum in Michigan.
Among the dignitaries to pay their respects Monday were Bush’s parents, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara; former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; former Vice President Dan Quayle; and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
At midafternoon, members of Ford’s family greeted mourners. Michael Ford and his sister, Susan Ford Bales, handed remembrance cards to some of the visitors.
The blue cards had the presidential, vice presidential and House of Representatives seals and a biography of Ford on one side. On the other was a photograph of the former president in the Oval Office, his head bowed.
The message on the card: “The family of Gerald R. Ford deeply appreciates your prayers and many kindnesses as together we celebrate and honor the life of a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and the 38th president of the United States.”
Michael Ford shook 8-year-old Christopher Witkowski’s hand and gave him a card. “My father would have wanted you to have this,” he told Christopher, from Alexandria, Va.
After viewing the casket, the Bushes went to Blair House, across from the White House, to visit with Betty Ford.