On Tuesday, President Gerald Ford passed away at the age of 93. And regardless of personal ideology or views on affairs of the past, the passing of a president is a sorrowful event. In United States history, there have still been fewer than 50 presidents, and each is a national treasure. Though only a person, they are people Americans placed into a position of great responsibility and power.
With the exception of Gerald Ford.
Ford has the distinction of being the only person to serve in the nation's highest office without having ever won a national election. Most people are aware he became president when Richard Nixon left the office after the Watergate scandal. Less well known is that he became vice president when Nixon's elected vice president, Spiro Agnew, left office amidst his own scandals. Ford was nominated and confirmed to the position of vice president in accordance with the US Constitution. Though never elected to the White House, and serving there for less than three years, President Ford did much to heal the country during his term.
President Ford guided the country through the end of the Viet Nam war. He was a welcome change from the secretive and conspiratorial presidency of Richard Nixon. And in a highly controversial move, he started the healing process by pardoning the disgraced former president for the crimes he had committed.
And he was the oldest former president in US history. His unassuming nature carried over to his "former president" status as he supported current presidents regardless of the actions they took. He believed in the office of president, and knew more than most that the president's job is to serve the American people to the best of his ability.
The nation should and will mourn the passing of President Ford. He embodied much about what makes the United States great. He proved that the peaceful transition of power can occur under the worst of circumstances. And he showed that healing and progress are possible when a nation comes together.