Dispatches From Ford Funeral Services

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007; 4:04 PM

7:30 a.m. -- Before it All Started

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier cruised the two-mile funeral route from the Capitol to the Cathedral in the passenger seat of her car, Cruiser 1, at 7:30 a.m.

It was her first big event as police chief, and Lanier did not sleep at all Monday night. She was finalizing last-minute details. "The logistics for an event like this are phenomenally complicated," she said.

Lanier had assigned about 1,000 officers to work security and traffic detail for the event. She was checking on the 450 officers standing at attention in crisp dark blue uniforms and white gloves along the funeral route.

She is familiar with this type of challenge, as she is former head of the department's Special Operations Division, which handles funerals and other such events.

Lanier scribbled notes on a white sheet of paper as she rode by the troops, saying one of the keys is to make sure everyone is in place early. She smiled and called out names of officers she knew, telling them they looked sharp, and handing out white gloves to those who did not have them.

"You can really tell who is on their game," she said of certain city blocks that had all of their officers in place early. "For some people you can just see it's a point of personal pride. That's another reason for me to run the route."

She was pleased with the way things looked. In addition to securing the safety of the funeral route, she took care of one last item before she headed back to the Capitol to get in place as the first car in the funeral procession: She took Cruiser 1 through a quick car wash.

1:30 p.m. -- A Final Washington Goodbye

Former president Gerald R. Ford left Washington for the last time as Air Force One bore his casket to the Midwest after a solemn funeral at the Washington National Cathedral.

The blue and white presidential 747 took off from Andrews Air Force base just before 1:30 p.m., after a brief ceremony that included the crack of artillery and a last goodbye from members of Ford's cabinet.

At about 12:50 p.m., the black hearse carrying Ford's casket drove slowly across the tarmac at Andrews, following a convoy of about three dozen black limousines, SUVs, and other vehicles. Looking on were a crowd of military personnel and a line of a dozen Boy Scouts in khaki uniforms and red caps.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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