Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saying Goodbye to President Ford

Saturday: 5:30 AM Rick Rockhill pays his last respects...
I went to pay my last respects to President Ford, who was laying in repose at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church; where he and Mrs Ford attended church weekly here in the valley. I drove to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden where I proceeded through security and was cleared to board the shuttle for the 12 minute ride over to St. Margaret's. Most people riding on the shuttle were quiet and awaiting instructions from the officials who met our bus as it pulled up along the front door. It was still dark outside, but as I looked at the exterior of the church, it was glowing from the lights inside. We were led into the church narthex, single file and were permited to approach the altar and pause for a few moments. The President's flag draped casket was just a few feet from his usual front pew where he attended weekly services for many years. It was very peaceful, but the symbolism of the presidency was quite evident. There before my eyes, was history in the making. I was standing before the casket of a man who belongs to very exclusive club- one of just 43 men in the world who have served as President of the United States.

Below left: President Ford's motorcade heading to St. Margaret's church in Palm Desert on Friday. Below right: Marines carring the casket into the church.

Although I was on the last shuttle permitted for public viewings, there were quite a few people still inside. I waited about twenty minutes to pass through the church. Below is the view from inside of the church (photo from The Desert Sun):

We were handed these memorial cards (see below)

Palm Springs Does it Thing too...
On Friday afternoon, Palm Springs officials held a ceremony at President Ford's star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in downtown, directly in front of the Palm Springs Desert Museum.

- Rick Rockhill

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