Remembering Gerald R. Ford

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

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

5 Responses to Remembering Gerald R. Ford

  1. TVNews says:

    Nixon resigned saving the country the trouble of an impeachment. At the time I too was a little put out that Ford let him off the hook. However, in retrospect, he was right in pardoning the President. It was time for the nation to move on.

  2. Jason Raines says:

    I agree with you that the pardon for Nixon was in the best interest of the country at the time. If it had not happened, Ford would have never been able to push any agenda for helping the country move forward due to legal battles that would have lasted for years.

    Like you, I am too young to remember when the pardon occurred and this is the source of many arguments between my parents and me. They have never forgiven Ford for his pardon of Nixon.

    Many Americans that lived through those years still have bitter feelings about Nixon getting a pardon, but I believe history will show the wisdom of the decision; as it helped the country get beyond the big mess of Watergate much faster than would have otherwise been the case.

  3. jimr says:

    I agree Libby, it took me a long time to figure out why Ford would pardon Nixon; however I now believe that it was in the best interest of the country at the time.  Mind you when it happened I was just a little kid, and didn’t understand, it was only years later when I was taking civics classes (something that is seriously lacking in todays schools) – that I had to seriously ponder why he would do this, and it was then that I realized that in order for the country to heal and move forward, pardoning Nixon was the best choice.

  4. Libby says:

    I was furious when Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon. But time changes people’s perspective…Well, some people’s. Years later I could see the wisdom of the act. My favorite quote is number four.

  5. TVNews says:

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

    That is one of my all time favorites.