President Gerald R. Ford died at his California home on December 26, 2006. He was 93 years old. The Ford Family announced to the nation that funeral ceremonies would be held in Palm Desert, California; Washington, D.C.; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. President George W. Bush proclaimed a National Day of Mourning for Gerald R. Ford, in honor and tribute to President Ford and to join together in solemn observance. At the conclusion of funeral services at St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert, California, President Ford’s body was flown to Washington, D.C.
An arrival ceremony greeted the casket and family at Andrews Air Force Base. Driving to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, the funeral procession drives to Alexandria, Virginia and past the Ford’s former home. The procession also pauses for a ceremony at the World War II Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring President Ford’s service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. President Ford’s casket would lie in state at the U.S. Capital Rotunda and a ceremony was held to honor Ford’s time in the U.S. House of Representatives. Funeral services were held for President Ford at the National Cathedral. Eulogies were given by President George W. Bush, Former President George H.W. Bush, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and Journalist Tom Brokaw. Following the service, President Ford’s body was flown back to Grand Rapids to lie in repose and for services.
After leaving Washington, D.C., Air Force One flies past the University of Michigan ‘Big House’ football field, in honor of Ford’s time as an All-American football with the Michigan Wolverines. Arriving in Grand Rapids, the University of Michigan band participates in the ‘Welcome Home’ ceremony for Gerald R. Ford, which includes a 21-Gun Salute. The funeral procession drives from the airport to the Gerald R. Ford President Museum in downtown Grand Rapids. Along the way, thousands wave to the procession, standing in the cold to wave goodbye to President Ford. After a ceremony in the Museum, the casket would lie in state, as the public could observe a moment of respect for President Ford. The Ford Family would greet the public throughout the night and into the morning. Funeral services are held for President Ford at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the service, eulogies are given by Former President Jimmy Carter, Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Historian Richard Norton Smith. Following the service, President Ford is interred on the grounds of his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Vice President Dick Cheney presented Betty Ford with the U.S. Flag in honor of Ford’s service to this country during World War II and throughout his life.