The flag-draped casket of late U.S. president Gerald Ford was carried past his widow and children Friday, and into the Los Angeles-area church where he attended services for years and even had his own “President’s Pew.”
The 88-year-old Betty Ford stood at the top of the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church steps, and entered as a Marine Corps band played “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”
The private family prayer service is the first in six days of formal mourning and will be followed by a public viewing at the church that’s expected to draw thousands.
That was evidenced as helicopters hovered overhead, Secret Service swept the area and surrounding residential streets were blocked off.
Betty Ford plans to accompany her husband’s body across the country to Washington D.C. following the viewings, and from there to Grand Rapids, Michigan, the hometown of the former president and the place where he will be entombed Wednesday.
Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal in 1974 and was 93 when died Tuesday with his family at his bedside.
In his honour there are six days of formal mourning planned, a period that includes a day of silence on Wall Street and the closing of the major stock markets Tuesday for his funeral service at the National cathedral.
Here is the schedule for the week of mourning:
Friday, Dec. 29
- 12:20 p.m., President Ford’s casket arrives at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. Mrs. Ford and the family will have a private prayer service.
- 1:15 p.m., close friends and guests will arrive at St. Margaret’s for private visitation. The Ford family will return to their residence.
- 4:20 p.m., public repose begins at St. Margaret’s. The church will remain open until 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Saturday, Dec. 30
- 9:45 a.m., departure ceremony from St. Margaret’s.
- 10:15 a.m., the remains will depart Palm Springs Regional Airport and be flown to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
- 5:20 p.m., Ford’s body arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, travelling to the U.S. Capitol. The motorcade will travel through Alexandria, Virginia, in remembrance of Ford’s long residence in that city as a congressman and as vice president. The motorcade also will pause at the Second World War Memorial.
- 6:20 p.m., the casket will be carried up the east steps of the Capitol to the door of the House of Representatives.
- 6:30 p.m., the casket will be received with ceremony at the east steps to the U.S. House of Representatives. The casket will proceed up the steps in honour of Ford’s 24 years as a House member. Ford’s remains will be met by a group of his former House colleagues. The casket will lie in repose at the open House doors. The casket will then be carried through Statuary Hall to the Rotunda for the Lying in State portion of the state funeral.
- After the arrival ceremony, the Rotunda will open to the public until midnight. The public waiting area will be at the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds, across from the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Sunday, Dec. 31, and Monday, Jan. 1
- Ford’s body continues in state. Rotunda open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 2
- 9:15 a.m., Lying in State ends.
- 9:30 a.m., the remains will depart the Rotunda and rest at the closed Senate doors in honour of Ford’s service as vice president of the United States and president of the Senate. The motorcade will then proceed to the Washington National Cathedral, passing the White House.
- 10 a.m., the remains will be received with ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral.
- 10:30 a.m., national funeral service begins.
- 11:30 a.m., the remains will depart with ceremony from Washington National Cathedral. A motorcade will transport the casket from the cathedral to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, for a departure ceremony at approximately.
- 12:15 p.m., departure ceremony from Andrews.
- 2:15 p.m., body will arrive at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The casket will then be moved by motorcade to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, for a brief private service. During the service, wreaths will be placed at the casket by the presidents of Yale University and the University of Michigan in honour of President Ford’s law degree and undergraduate degree, from those institutions respectively.
- Following the service, President Ford’s remains will lie in repose until 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to pay respects at the museum during repose.
Wednesday, Jan. 3.
- 1 p.m., remains will depart the museum with ceremony and proceed to Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, for a private funeral service for invited guests only.
- 1:30 p.m., remains arrive at the church with ceremony. Following the service, the remains will depart the church with ceremony.
- 3 p.m., the remains will proceed to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum for a private interment service.
- 3:30 p.m., interment service and burial.
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