Ford, in Final Journey, Returns to ‘Real Home’ for a Solemn Memorial





After a slow journey past the touchstones of his political life, Gerald R. Ford was brought to a place of honor Saturday under the Capitol dome, where a crowd of dignitaries gathered to commemorate the man whose presidency encompassed one of the most tumultuous periods of American history.

Many of Mr. Ford’s most prominent protégés came to mourn him, remembering the era of political unity, however brief, he oversaw after the Watergate scandal. Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as Mr. Ford’s chief of staff and was an honorary pallbearer, said, “Few have ever risen so high with so little guile or calculation.”

Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the departing House speaker, recalled that “in the summer of 1974, America didn’t need a philosopher-king or a warrior-prince, an aloof aristocrat or a populist firebrand.”

“We needed a healer; we needed a rock,” Mr. Hastert said. “We needed honesty, candor and courage. We needed Gerald Ford.”

Betty Ford, 88, the former first lady, stood silently during prayers for her husband of 58 years, her eyes downcast. Mrs. Ford appeared frail but poised, and at the ceremony’s end moved forward and bowed her head, her hands lightly touching her husband’s coffin.


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