The man we know as Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr at Omaha, Nebraska on this day in 1913, Ford's mother left an abusive relationship immediately after the birth. Ford earned his BA at the University of Michigan where he was also a football star, earned a law degree at Yale, and spent most of World War II in the Navy, serving on the USS Monterey in the Pacific. Returning to Grand Rapids, Michigan after the war, he married Betty and soon unseated the incumbent congressman, serving in the House for 24 years, eight of them as Minority Leader. When Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign, Richard Nixon nominated Ford to the position, then Ford became President when Nixon resigned. Ford may have been just what we needed at that point, someone who was open and honest and willing to air out the mess. He wasn't involved in Watergate and he didn't get us into Vietnam, but he was at the helm when both of those misadventures came to an end. His pardon of Nixon was unpopular with many, but it put an end to the daily barrage of scandal.
Below are some of his more memorable quotes, the first being my favorite.
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
“Government exists to create and preserve conditions in which people can translate their ideas into practical reality. In the best of times, much is lost in translation. But we try.”
“History and experience tells us that moral progress cannot come in comfortable and in complacent times, but out of trial and out of confusion.”
“The old question still remains: Can a free people restrain crime without sacrificing fundamental liberties and a heritage of compassion?”
“We are bound together by the most powerful of all ties, our fervent love for freedom and independence, which knows no homeland but the human heart.”
“The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?”
All from Gerald R. Ford, 1913 – 2006