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Wreath-laying ceremony to mark President Ford’s 106th birthday on Sunday

President George W. Bush lays flowers at the gravesite of former President Gerald R. Ford, Friday, April 20, 2007, during a visit to Grand Rapids, Mich. (Eric Draper/White House)

To commemorate the life of the late President Gerald R. Ford, a wreath-laying ceremony will be held next week marking the late president’s 106th birthday.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 14, at the tomb of President Ford and the former First Lady Betty Ford at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St.

The long-standing presidential tradition, conducted on the birthday of every deceased president, consists of the sitting president sending a wreath to be presented by a military officer at the deceased president’s tomb.

The ceremony will also feature a personal tradition established by Betty Ford in 2007. In addition to a presidential wreath sent by President Donald J. Trump, wreaths will also be presented by members of the Ford family, crew members from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and invited representatives of local law enforcement.

The Ford family will offer remarks to honor the late president and place their wreaths and floral tributes at the base of the tomb.

There will also be a 38-second silent tribute to honor President Ford during the ceremony, followed by a rendering of “Echo Taps.”

Presenters at the ceremony will include Susan Ford Bales, the Fords’ daughter; Dr. Stephen Barton, Grand Rapids Community College director of choral activities, to sing the National Anthem; Rev. Stephen Holmgren, from Grace Episcopal Church, for invocation; and Major Glen Caddy, to offer benediction.

President Gerald R. Ford died in 2006 at age 93. He was born on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska, as Leslie Lynch King Jr. He and his mother, who divorced Ford’s father soon after his birth, moved to Grand Rapids. The future president later took his stepfather’s name of Gerald R. Ford.

Prior to being sworn in as president, Gerald Ford was an Eagle Scout, a University of Michigan football player, football and boxing coach, a Yale Law School graduate, a Grand Rapids attorney, an officer in the U.S. Navy, a World War II veteran, a husband and father of four, a 13-term congressman and briefly served as President Richard M. Nixon’s vice president.

He succeeded Nixon as president following the 37th president’s resignation on Aug. 9, 1974. Gerald Ford carries the unique distinction of being only person in the history of the United States to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office.


© 2019 The Grand Rapids Press, Mich.

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