Ford’s Funeral

I got sucked in this morning, sucked into watching the Ford funeral.

While Ford was not of my particular political persuasion, I am fascinated by the spectacle of the state funeral. And, as Bush 43 pointed out, he is a Grand Rapids, MI, boy. I was born in that town myself (although, Ford was not…), lived there for awhile as an adult, Grace Episcopal Church was on my regular running route. There’s actually a picture somewhere from a local west Michigan paper of my Mom as a little curly-haired cherub sitting in the congressman’s lap.

Here are a few observations:

  • I wish the media could surrepitiously mike the seated dignitaries. For example, at one point I saw Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Carter engaged in quite a conversations. Wonder what that was about…
  • Betty Ford is the most incredibly graceful 90-something woman I have ever seen.
  • I am floored by the way we use religion as a country when it’s convenient. I mean, this funeral was a CHURCH SERVICE in every sense of the word. And a good one, no less. Good, solid, high church. I sang along with the choir.
  • And speaking of high church: Ford was an Episcopalian. He was high church, no question about it. But most of the country isn’t high church. What happens when our less high church presidents, say Carter and Cllinton, Baptists that they are, die? Will the services feel any different? More like revivals?
  • I’m no presidential scholar and I won’t enter the debate about how good a president Ford was, but the passage his daughter read, James 1:19-24, about being doers of the word, was a great passage for any public person.
  • Henry Kissinger, referring to Ford’s role in relations with South Africa, termed the situation there “colonialism.” OK, Henry, I’ll give you the colonial part, but I think it went a little bit further than that.
  • By the time Tom Brokaw gave his eulogy, I was listening on the radio. But I am sure that he was staring down Bush 43 when he talked about how Ford never viewed the media as adversaries, and respected their role even when they were not easy to deal with.
  • Can you imagine being Bush 43 and having to give a eulogy when, just this week, there have been releases of recent interviews Ford gave where he was highly critical of the Iraq war and the Bush administration?
  • Grand Rapids was frequently referred to as: “the Heartland,” “mainstreet America,” etc. Well, kind of, but it’s also the second biggest city in the state of Michigan, and it is a city with definite urban problems. Even the heartland is not all Norman Rockwell and suburban prosperity.

Even as I write this, I’ve just been informed that I’m leading my first funeral service later this week. A little more low-key, I hope.

3 Responses to “Ford’s Funeral”

  1. Lorie M. Says:

    I was looking around blogs trying to see if anyone noticed how Bush 43 said in the eulogy that Ford and his wife had “four or five” children. Did I hear that correctly? Why would he have said it that way– did he not find out exactly how many they had? Hmm.

  2. Erica Says:

    I DID hear that! I wondered if they lost a child (that was my charitable-toward-George thought); or if George said it and then looked up and realized there were only four (not-so-charitable-toward-George). Anyone else know anything about that?

  3. ppb Says:

    I had to work and missed it. I watched the state funeral on Saturday and was a bit frustrated by the lack of manners by the funeral attendees.

    And GR is not small town america, but it is heartland. It’s in the part of the country where people still believe in manners. Being a midwestern transplant on the east coast for the last 16 years, I miss manners the most.