A Tribute to President Gerald R. Ford
In late January 1977, I was asked by Representative J. Herbert Burke (R- 12th District, Florida) to write a tribute to President Gerald R. Ford. The finished statement was read into the Congressional Record by Rep. Burke on February 1, 1977. Later that year, it became part of the official tribute presented to President Ford by the U.S. Congress in honor of his service to the nation.
Three decades later, following President Ford's death on December 26, 2007, I've decided to place these remarks on this website. They offer a historical look at the central challenge faced by the Ford presidency, namely, national unrest. They provide an insight into the qualities of leadership he brought to the office of the presidency. And they demonstrate the depth of gratitude afforded President Ford in early 1977 by the American people and their elected Representatives. With minor editorial changes, the tribute reads as follows:
President Gerald R. Ford in the Oval Office, photo by David Hume Kennerly
“Former President Gerald R. Ford deserves the gratitude of the American people. With an unshakable conviction, and an uncommon prudence, he led his country from the excesses and malignancy of the recent past to a spirit more united and confident than any time since before November 1963.
In an undeniable way, President Ford restored to the national consciousness a renewed appreciation of civility in social interchange. He reminded Americans that civility is the foundation of our national system and, that apart from civility, democracy cannot for long endure. It is because of his efforts to renew the nation's moral fabric that the tenure of President Gerald R. Ford constitutes a milestone in the hard march of the American Republic.