We walked by many Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts standing in honor outside of the quiet church. Inside, we held hands making our way through the pews toward the front and the flag-draped casket. "There he is, Daddy. Gerald Ford is under the God Bless America flag." In a soft voice I told her she was right. When it was our turn, we paused for only a moment to say good-bye to a second U.S. president. It was a dignified and impressive sight. The church was dimly lighted except for the overhead light on the Stars and Stripes folded around the casket. The honor guards of the military services stood ramrod straight. No one spoke. We bowed our heads, did the sign of the cross and silently walked out and back aboard the bus.
Among the many facts students in my government class learn about is presidential transition. We share a wonderful history of a peaceful transfer of power in what has become the most powerful office on earth. It is one of the many things that makes the United States unique from other nations. We don't have palace coups or military takeovers. Ford became vice president under the 25th amendment, following the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew. Nine months later he became president after the resignation of Richard Nixon. These two dramatic events did not lead to violent demonstrations in the streets, or to the arrests of political opponents, or even a single soldier leaving his barracks, but rather to another peaceful transfer of power, which was made possible because of the integrity of the man from Michigan, Gerald Ford.