Life has been beyond crazy.. let’s see if I can catch up a bit!!! 🙂
Two weeks ago, Thursday, July 14th, I had the privilege to pay my regards to the former First Lady, Betty Ford. I wrote this post on that day but did not get a chance to add pictures and publish this post until today.
Written July 14th:
Betty Ford and her husband Gerald Ford are very important members of the Grand Rapids community. When the news of her passing hit the city, Grand Rapids began preparing for Betty’s arrival. The church were the funeral was held was noticeably busy. Days before the funeral I watched the landscape trimmed to perfection, audio/visual vans outside carrying in equipment, no parking signs placed around the neighborhood, and canvas fences posted for privacy along the back of the church.
Today brought a whole new scene to this quite neighborhood as Grand Rapids said goodbye to Betty Ford.
American flags were hung on posts, grandparents, parents and children lined the streets, police officers from seven stations filled the streets and secret service men and women spoke silently to one another and frequently checked their watches waiting for the arrival of our country’s First Lady.
I arrived shortly after 12:30pm after a quick five-minute walk from my in-law’s house to the church were the funeral was held. At the end of the block was a police officer next to a Road Closed sign. A few blocks down a blockade of city vehicles made certain no vehicles would get through the closed road.
I settled into a spot next to the fence with a great view of the church’s front doors. Almost immediately after arriving a motorcade of black vehicles with tinted windows pulled up escorted by a few police vehicles. (I like to think they were someone important!)
Overtime more black vehicles with tinted windows rolled in and many buses.
I am glad I went early because Betty’s motorcade arrived much sooner than originally planned. The crowd quieted as Betty’s hearse pulled in front of the church. Secret service men and women surrounded the vehicle and watched the crowd.
I’m not sure why but we waited a long time before anything happened. I know that the Clinton, Bush and Cheney motorcades did not arrive on time and that may have been the cause for the funeral to be delayed. Their motorcades came in at a different side of the church and I only caught a glimpse of the cars heading into the church parking lot.
While we waited we were able to catch some Grand Rapids dignitaries heading into the church.
I chatted it up with a few people while we waited including the two female police officers from East Grand Rapids. They kept us updated and let us listen to their radio. It was fun hearing all the details, especially when they talked about the former presidents! How cool!
Twenty minutes late, military men marched up to the casket as Betty Ford’s family came out of the church. The family stood by as the military men carried out the casket. The casket top was overflowing with beautiful flowers. The casket was a dark beautiful wood. The crowd watched in complete silence as Betty’s casket was carried into the church.
Most people quickly left the area. The rest of us took this time to sit down, chat, and take in the scene. I listened to stories of Betty from people who lived in Grand Rapids their whole life, heard about Gerald Ford’s funeral and the differences between the two funerals, and saw what pride these residents have in their beloved city. It was a powerful afternoon.
After about an hour and half, the church doors were opened once more as the military men carried Betty’s casket out with her family trailing behind her. The police officers quickly go into their vehicles and started the motorcade. They were followed by two vehicles filled with secret service men and women, followed by Betty Ford, her family, then more secret service and police vehicles. While this was all happening the rest of the people gathering in the church left from a different direction.
I waved to the family and said my silent goodbye to Grand Rapids First Lady!
There are a ton of great stories that follow what events of the day.
Here is an article that shares the timeline of the day.
Here is an article that discusses the funeral itself as well as talks about who attended the funeral.
Some of the people attended include:
Former First Lady Barbara Bush
Donald Rumsfeld (not mentioned in article but a police woman said he was there)