not only our government but civilization itself.
– Gerald R. Ford, Inaugural Address, 9 August 1974
Within the last hour it was announced that Gerald Ford passed away on Tuesday, December 26, at the age of 93. I so vividly remember his taking office. An historic event, in that he was the first unelected President of the United States, rising to office in the wake of the first resigning President, and having been appointed to the office of Vice President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew. It was a tumultuous time in America, and even little citizens like me knew it.
I was just turned 10 and had spent time with my grandfather tearfully watching Richard Nixon resign. My grandfather cried because his beloved country – and more importantly the office of its President – was disgraced; and I think I cried because he did and I felt the historical gravity of the days. In fact, as Nixon came on the TV to deliver his resignation speech, I precociously scribbled notes on a tiny notebook with an extra pencil behind my ear. It was the day I decided I was going to be a journalist. Of course, I later earned my degree in communications and then earned my living in the Fourth Estate, until God took my steps in another direction.
I’ll leave it to the historians to decide President Ford’s legacy, but he was part of an important time of awakening in me, an ever-growing awareness of the world at large came with his unique and historic presidency. What a wild mental rollercoaster it’s been ever since.