Thursday, January 4, 2007

Memories Shared by Mrs. Doglvrs

Brochure given to The Doglvrs and all of those that paid their respects to President Gerald R. Ford's family in Michigan during the public calling hours

Last night, the Doglvrs family made their way downtown to join the procession of mourners for our 38th president. Amongst various forms of protest from “Daddy’s Girl” and “the skull,” we parked and made our way to the end of the line that snaked its way around the corner of the Amway Grand Hotel. It was 6:00 pm…

“Why stand in this long line if we don’t even get to see him?”

“We need to do this honey, it’s our patriotic duty. No different than standing at a parade when the flag passes by, or standing and clapping when Veterans go by, or standing and singing during our National Anthem, putting your hand over your heart.”

“But it’s cold out here.”

“I know buddy, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The line began to move along and a half hour later we are inside the main activity room of the De Vos Center. The folks we are in line with are considerate, friendly and respectful. We even noticed some old friends just near the door.

As we zigzagged through the huge hall, we glimpse PowerPoint presentations of President Ford – as a young boy, playing football at U of M, graduating from Yale, holding his baby daughter, with his lovely family on the lawn of the White House. Murmurs from the throng of mourner’s…memories of President Ford in the White House, his beliefs, what the papers are saying. One television screen shows former President Bush speaking at the funeral in
Washington D.C. – Mrs. Betty Ford sits surrounded by her family…a wife mourning before the world.

Upon reaching the last “zag” an officer hollers – “If you don’t want to sign the book, you can pass by on the left!” Mr. and I look at each other knowingly – we look at the folks in front and behind us – we’re all signing the book…

The book is actually four, watched over by two young Army men – we are pleased to stand beside our children as they sign their own names in the memorial books of a hometown hero come home to rest.

We proceed outside again - some three hours after going in – the fresh air is rejuvenating to everyone and the kids are being silly with the boy behind us. The breeze off the Grand River is pretty cold while standing on the bridge amidst news crews from everywhere.

As we approach the Gerald R. Ford Museum, we instruct our children to remove their hats, and to be quiet when we get inside. Everyone around us is doing the same. Television cameras on huge boom stands pan the long line of mourners bathed in super bright lights. Mr. turns to me and says “Honey, people are lined up all the way to the end of the other bridge over there and then the line folds back on its self.”

Wow – it’s too much to comprehend at this point.

Once in the door we remove our hats and mittens passing by the first of 3…maybe more…secret service men and the first camera. Inside the second door the silence is nearly overwhelming. The mourners leaving have blank faces…some are crying softly.

Passing by a second camera and security man we glimpse the flag covered casket surrounded by stoic representatives of each of our faithful armed forces. We all walk quietly passed our stars and stripes covered President, marveling at how straight the back is of the Marine at the end. Daddy’s Girl makes eye contact with me after noticing the woman in a National Guard
uniform at the back corner. I am instantly filled with pride that she now “gets it” – why we’ve come.

As we leave the inner room – we each shake hands with Steven Ford – as I hold his hand I say “our condolences” and this man who has lost his father and has been through ceremony after ceremony with more to come says to me “thank you for standing in that line.”

Again I say…wow.

We set off on the long walk back to the car, stopping first to see the mementos left at the sign by regular people just like us. And then – I am surprised that seeing something I’ve always thought was kind of hokey – has moved me to tears…hand written notes, obviously from children, “Goodbye President Ford. Honesty is still the best policy,” professionally made signs “U of M from the Big House to the White House,” old original bumper stickers, brand new University of Michigan hats and flags, candles everywhere.

As we walk up Pearl Street towards the parking garage, Mr. and I are blown away by the people in line to see what we’ve already experienced…the line goes on so far, we cannot imagine the end of it, and more people are making their way along it looking for the end.

In the window of a local restaurant this is a sign:

Gerald “Our” Ford
July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2005

In the car and buckled up I look at the clock – 10:15 pm.
I turn to my family and ask “Are you glad we came?”

All three of them answer – “Yes, I’m very glad.”


~Mrs. Doglvrs

reprinted with permission and honored to include on our webpage.
Angel - wonderful job!