The Ford Funeral

Donald Ritchie, Alex Baumgarten and John Johnson
Senate Historian and Episcopal Church Analysts
Tuesday, January 2, 2007; 8:30 AM

Over the weekend the body of the 38th president of the United States will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol. On Tuesday the casket will be moved to the U.S. Senate door for a period of repose. There will then be a departure ceremony on the east steps of the Senate followed by a procession to Washington National Cathedral where funeral services will begin.

Gerald R. Ford 1913 - 2006: Full Coverage

Ford Memorial Schedule

Donald Ritchie, associate historian of the Senate, were online Tuesday, Jan. 2, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET to narrate the events taking place on Capitol Hill, explain the proceedings and answer questions about protocol and tradition. Alex Baumgarten and John Johnson, international and domestic policy analysts with the Episcopal Church, will be online beginning at 10 a.m. to offer insight and perspective about the funeral service.

A transcript follows.


Donald Ritchie: Gerald Ford spent a greater portion of his career in Congress than any recent president, so it has been appropriate that his state funeral would include stops at both the House and Senate chamber. The coffin now rests outside the Senate chamber, where he presided as vice president from 1973 to 1974.

Posted 8:39 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: This morning, President Ford's coffin will lie in repose for a few minutes before the doors of the U.S. Senate. Is this the first time this has occurred, or has it happened for another president? And is this out of respect as his time as president of the Senate/vice president?

Donald Ritchie: It is not common practice for the coffin of a former president to be placed outside of either chamber. However, funeral services for members of Congress have taken place inside the House and Senate chambers, and there is no set procedures, it varies from case to case.

Posted 8:43 a.m., 1.2.2007


New York, N.Y.: An article by Dana Milbank in Sunday's Post mentioned all the VIPs who were not at the capitol for the reception of Ford's casket Saturday evening. I was surprised to find that event referred to as the state funeral. What are the events that actually constitute a "state funeral"? If the funeral spans a four-day period (Saturday evening through today) is it really fair to fault people for not attending all events? Is there some accepted protocol that the president or others failed to observe? At the Capitol, VIP Roll Call Has Many No-Shows ( Post, Dec. 31)

Donald Ritchie: A state funeral is the term reserved for presidents and former presidents, or those specially designated, such as high ranking government officials or military officers. Others who are so honored at the Capitol are said to be lying in honor rather than lying in state.

Posted 8:53 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: President Nixon's 1994 funeral service was conducted in California. Can it still be considered a "state funeral" if rites were not held in Washington, D.C.?

Donald Ritchie: Not all former presidents and their family choose to hold a state funeral in Washington. President Truman's family declined a Washington event as did President Nixon's family. State funerals are those conducted by the government in honor of a former leader, however, the formal funerals held for former presidents outside of Washington, attended by government leaders, are the functional equivalent of the state funerals held in Washington.

Posted 8:57 a.m., 1.2.2007


Centre, Ala.: What is the significance of the open door to the House and the closed door for the Senate chambers? Why is one open and one closed, as I have read it will be today. Thanks.

Donald Ritchie: I'm not sure there is any symbolic significance. In recent years the House chamber has been left open to visitors during recesses of Congress, while the Senate chamber has been closed during recesses. The practice was in place long before this weekend.

Posted 8:58 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: I have heard that after each President leaves the White House, he is required to plan his own funeral. Are all former presidents granted a state funeral? Are does the Congress approve which presidents will receive a State funeral?

Donald Ritchie: All former presidents are entitled to State funerals and Congress makes no determination among them. The former presidents and their families consult with military officials who provide information on the various options available and then tailor the proceedings to fit them. Many elements of state funerals are the same for all presidents, but other elements vary with the individual president. Some choose not to have a formal state funeral in Washington.

Posted 9:01 a.m., 1.2.2007


Fairfax, Va.: Is it unusual that there have been so many places the body of Gerald Ford has been, i.e., California, Washington, Michigan? It seems that there have been a lot of ceremonies.

Donald Ritchie: Former President Ford died in California, where a family ceremony was held before coming to Washington. He will be buried by his presidential library in Michigan. This is similar to the situation that occurred with the Reagan funeral, except that President Reagan died in California, where his library was located.

Posted 9:02 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The funeral procession is leaving the Capitol and heading down Pennsylvania Avenue, and will pass the White House. This is the same route that presidential inaugurations normally follow, which was something that Ford did not experience as President, since he was sworn in at the White House following President Nixon's resignation.

Posted 9:05 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The Ford funeral has differed from other presidential state funerals in the use of the House and Senate steps, as opposed to the central Rotunda stairway. This has been necessary in part because the construction of the Capitol Visitors Center on the East Front has closed the central staircase.

Posted 9:08 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: Near President Ford's coffin is a marble bust of Gerald Ford. This commemorates his vice presidency. Since the vice president is president of the Senate, the Senate installs a bust in each vice president's honor. The collection runs from John Adams to Dan Quayle.

Posted 9:10 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The Ford family are now prepared to enter the motorcade. The coffin will be removed from the Capitol and will then proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House, and up Massachusetts Avenue to the National Cathedral.

Posted 9:12 a.m., 1.2.2007


Denver, Colo.: I see that the eulogists include two presidents, a secretary of state and a reporter. Is it unusual (or surprising to you) for a reporter to be in that position?

Donald Ritchie: The former president's family ask individuals to deliver eulogies. Those individuals can be part of the government or outside the government. The media plays a significant part in the life and career of any president, so it is not surprising that a member of the media would be called on to speak about President Ford. It would be more surprising if it happened during President Nixon's funeral.

Posted 9:14 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: What's going on right now outside on the Capitol steps?

Donald Ritchie: Military personnel are lining the steps, awaiting the presidential coffin, which will be carried by a military honor guard. The military conducts state funerals, and of course the former president served as commander in chief.

Posted 9:17 a.m., 1.2.2007


Atlanta, Ga.: Much has been written about the funeral for Abraham Lincoln and how it was a blueprint for the funeral for John F. Kennedy. What was different about the Lincoln funeral from previous funerals? Was the Lincoln funeral fashioned after some other leaders funeral? Who sets the budget for the funeral and where are the funds drawn from?

Donald Ritchie: President Lincoln was the first president of the United States to be honored with a state funeral at the Capitol. The two previous presidents who died in office had funerals at the White House. The Lincoln funeral also took place shortly after the Rotunda and current dome of the Capitol had been completed. When President Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, his family held a funeral at the White House rather than the Capitol. Mrs. Kennedy had the Lincoln funeral researched when plans for President Kennedy's funeral were hastily arranged in 1963.

Posted 9:20 a.m., 1.2.2007


Las Vegas, Nev.: Interesting information, thank you. You note the VP bust run through Quayle, does it usually take so long to produce a bust -- why would Gore not be there yet?

Donald Ritchie: It usually takes several years for a sculptor to be selected and a bust commissioned. There eventually will be busts of Vice Presidents Gore and Cheney in the collection.

Posted 9:22 a.m., 1.2.2007


Falls Church, Va.: Who was the first president to lie in repose in the Rotunda?

Donald Ritchie: President Lincoln was the first president. Senator and former House Speaker Henry Clay was the first individual.

Posted 9:22 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Please explain the terms "lie in repose," "lie in state," etc.

Donald Ritchie: Lie is state is the term reserved for presidents, former presidents and high government officials and military officers. Others, such a Rosa Parks, lie in honor at the Capitol.

Posted 9:23 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: As the Ford coffin leaves the Senate wing, it is accompanied by members of his family. Military officials, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and other Capitol officials accompany the coffin.

Posted 9:24 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: Mrs. Betty Ford has emerged from the limousine as the coffin exits the Capitol Building via the Senate steps. She will wait below rather than descend a long flight of marble steps with other members of the family.

Posted 9:26 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Then who lies "in repose"?

Donald Ritchie: As the Navy Band plays Hail to the Chief, cannons on the Capitol Grounds give the former president a 21-gun salute.

Posted 9:27 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: A military 21-gun salute is also afforded presidents at the time of their inauguration.

Posted 9:28 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: As the coffin left the Capitol, the music played was the hymn "Abide With Me, Fast Falls the Eventide."

Posted 9:32 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The chief difference between the Reagan and Ford funeral processions is that President Reagan's coffin was carried on a horse-drawn caisson, while President Ford's is being carried by a hearse. President Reagan's funeral took place in the summer, while the Ford funeral has adjusted to the winter months, but the family chose these arrangements.

Posted 9:35 a.m., 1.2.2007


Cleveland, Ohio: Did Jimmy Carter decide not to be part of the services for Gerald Ford? Right after Ford's death, there was quite a bit made of Ford's request to Carter to speak at his funeral or vice versa depending on who died first.

Donald Ritchie: The decision about who speaks and otherwise participates is made by the former president's family.

Posted 9:36 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: It is common for the families of former presidents to attend state funerals. Mrs. Nancy Reagan and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter are attending this funeral.

Posted 9:38 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The funeral procession is leaving the Capitol Grounds from the Senate side of the Capitol. It will descend Capitol Hill on Constitution Avenue.

Posted 9:39 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: The funeral procession will then go down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House.

Posted 9:40 a.m., 1.2.2007


Atlanta, Ga.: Have there ever been open casket viewings for U.S. presidents?

Donald Ritchie: Yes, President Lincoln had an open coffin viewing, at various stops between Washington and Springfield, Illinois. Most state funerals, however, are closed coffin.

Posted 9:40 a.m., 1.2.2007


Oxford, Miss.: Is a special hearse used for presidential funerals? Does it have a special designation?

Donald Ritchie: No, because not all state funerals have used a hearse. Also before President Reagan's state funeral in 2004 there had not been a state funeral in Washington since 1973.

Posted 9:41 a.m., 1.2.2007


Bethesda, Md.: Then did Ford not want a horse-drawn funeral cortege?

Donald Ritchie: Yes, President Ford and his family made that decision.

Posted 9:42 a.m., 1.2.2007


Donald Ritchie: That is the end of the Capitol portion of the proceedings, I will now turn this over to Alex Baumgarten and John Johnson of the Episcopal Church.

Posted 9:44 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: Good morning.

Signing on now from the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations on Capitol Hill are analysts Alex Baumgarten and John Johnson. We are joined by the Rev. Rosemari Sullivan, Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish in Washington D.C.

We will be providing commentary on the ceremonies taking place this morning at the Washington National Cathedral, President Ford's life as a person of faith, and the various ways in which faith meets public life in our nation.

We are pleased to be with you this morning, to answer your questions and provide some narration. We will identify ourselves when speaking.

Posted 9:46 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The weather here in Washington is bright and sunny with cool temperatures. Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. On this bright morning the 215 stained glass windows will shine brightly on the congregation gathered inside the Cathedral.

Posted 9:50 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: The President's funeral procession is now making its way to the Washington National Cathedral.

We're beginning to see images of the inside of the Cathedral, where we see all of the living U.S. Presidents already gathered, along with Nancy Reagan.

The Cathedral is the flagship church of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the seat of the Episcopal Bishop of Washington of the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

The gothic Cathedral, which began construction around the turn of the 20th Century and was completed in 1990, has hosted funeral or memorial services for 10 of the 14 U.S. Presidents who have died since it began construction. President Ford's funeral is the third official state funeral for a U.S. President to take place at the Cathedral, the others being Dwight Eisenhower in 1969 and Ronald Reagan in 2004. All living U.S. Presidents have plans for funeral services at the Cathedral.

Posted 9:56 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: I'm a Roman Catholic, and more familiar with the terms "Father," "Monsignor," "Bishop," etc. Looking at the funeral program posted online at, I see the terms "Right Reverend," "Reverend," and "Most Reverend." What is the difference between these? Funeral Program

John Johnson: The Rev. Rosemari Sullivan responds: "In the funeral bulletin the Catholic Archbishop of Washington uses the title of Most Reverend. The Episcopal Bishop uses the title the Right Reverend and the Dean of the National Cathedral is properly addressed as the Very Reverend."

Posted 9:58 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: President Ford was an active member of the Episcopal Church his entire life. When he assumed the Vice Presidency in 1974, Mr. Ford told reporters that his faith "is a personal thing. It's not something one shouts from the housetops or wears on his sleeve. For me, my religious feeling is a deep personal faith I rely on for guidance from my God."

While in the House of Representatives, he and Mrs. Ford were members of Immanuel-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where they both taught Sunday School. As President, they often attended St. John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House, a historic place of worship often referred to as the "Church of the Presidents," as every U.S. President since John Adams has worshiped there. In retirement, the President and Mrs. Ford were members of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert California. The rector of St. Margaret's, Father Robert Certain, will preach and officiate at today's funeral.

Joining President Ford's priest in presiding at today's funeral will be the Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington; and Father Samuel Lloyd, the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral.

Posted 10:00 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: It would be interesting to know how the Cathedral -- their staff -- prepares for such an event: the technology, the liturgy (church vis-a-vis state), security, even the flowers ... what do you know?

John Johnson: The Joint Force Headquarter-National Capital Region is in charge of State Funerals and works directly with the family and Cathedral staff. All of the arrangements are planned well in advance.

Posted 10:03 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN says: "The United Stats Marine Orchestra is now performing 'When Jesus Wept,' from 'New England Triptych' by American composer William Schuman."

Posted 10:05 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Today's Funeral Service comes from The Book of Common Prayer. The Burial of the Dead Rite One.

This Episcopal liturgy for the dead is an "Easter liturgy" according to the notes found in the Prayer Book common in Episcopal Churches across the United States. "Jesus was raised from the dead and we as Christians believe that we too shall be raised."

As President Ford's body is brought to the Cathedral door, Bishop Chane meets the body and offers a prayer on behalf of both the departed president, but also for all those who mourn his passing.

Posted 10:08 a.m., 1.2.2007


Atlanta, Ga.: What is the seating capacity of the Cathedral? Are there any general public seats inside for this funeral?

John Johnson: There are approximately 3000 seats in the Nave of the National Cathedral. Today's event is by invitation only.

Posted 10:09 a.m., 1.2.2007


Anonymous: Why are the former and current presidents referred to as "Honorable" in the funeral program not "President"?

Alex Baumgarten: Gathered in the congregation are members of the House and Senate, members of the Administration, and international leaders. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is seated next to President and Senator Clinton, with former Secretary of State Colin Powell a few seats away.

President and Mrs. Bush will occupy the very front seats of the Cathedral, next to the center aisle.

Posted 10:10 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The President's Body has now arrived at the West front of the Cathedral.

Posted 10:12 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Family are entering now through the West Front of the Cathedral. Mrs. Ford is being taken in through the South entrance of the Cathedral as opposed to the "Ladies Portch," which is the North Entrance, and has been closed due to construction at the Cathedral. Mrs. Ford will be seated in the front row.

Posted 10:18 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Why was the coffin maintained closed through out the entire ceremony? It would surprise me that with all the security they wouldn't allow the American public to view our history as it lays in peace.

Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SAYS: "In an Episcopal funeral, the coffin is always closed throughout, and draped with either a funeral pall or a flag."

Posted 10:20 a.m., 1.2.2007


Rockville, Md.: What are all those flags in the cathedral at the top of the screen, different countries?

Were they put up for today's funeral?

John Johnson: All 50 state flags and the District of Columbia are affixed to the pillars inside the Cathedral Nave.

Posted 10:20 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN says: "The hymn being sung, 'America,' is part of the Episcopal Church's hymnal, as are a number of other national songs. In the Episcopal Church, Days of Special Devotion include Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day, when these hymns often are sung."

Posted 10:24 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Marine Corps Orchestra and the Armed Forces Chorus are now playing America the Beautiful, which the family is entering and taking their seats.

Posted 10:26 a.m., 1.2.2007


Baltimore, Md.: Mention of Ford's Episcopalian faith brings up an interesting question: As I recall, a disproportionate number of presidents have been Episcopalian. I can see that for the pioneering days of the country, when people belonged to the "state church" of England during colonial times, but how has this managed to continue into the 20th century, if indeed it has? It's (thankfully) a largely irrelevant issue in modern times -- I never even knew Ford was an Episcopalian until a few days ago, and I can't tell you the faiths of Bush 41, Bush 43, etc.

Alex Baumgarten: The denominational identity of our Presidents is mostly a modern discussion, as many of the Presidents of the 19th century had no formal denominational affiliations.

Twelve of the 43 U.S. Presidents have been Episcopalians, including President Ford and the first President Bush. The current President was raised an Episcopalian but he and Mrs. Bush currently are practicing Methodists. While in Washington, however, they attend St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House.

Posted 10:29 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: President Bush is escorting Mrs. Ford to her seat in the Cathedral with the congregation all standing as a matter of respect.

Posted 10:30 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Hail to the Chief is played as the Joint Forces Military Honor Guard carries President Ford's coffin into the Cathedral West Front. They Procession in front of the coffin includes Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military branches.

Posted 10:35 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Bishop Chane is now receiving President Ford's Body.

Posted 10:36 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: As President Ford's coffin makes its final approach to the Cathedral, it's worth noting that when President and Mrs. Ford left the White House in 1977, they took an active role in helping raise the funds to complete the great Gothic Structure. In those days of the 1970s, it was unclear whether the unfinished Cathedral would ever come to completion. Bishop John Walker of Washington believed very much that it was essential for the Cathedral to be completed in order to provide symbol for moments such as these in the life of our nation. President and Mrs. Ford agreed with that and did a great deal to make Bishop Walker's vision a reality, making the President's burial from the Cathedral today a particularly fitting tribute.

Posted 10:37 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Is this service a "mass"?

John Johnson: The Rev. Rosemari Sullivan says, "This is a Burial Office and does not include the celebration of the Holy Eucharist."

Posted 10:40 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: We're now hearing Father Certain read the "Burial Anthems," a series of Scripture verses that have been used to begin Anglican and Episcopal funerals since 1549. The present anthems are taken from four Scriptural sources: the Gospel according to St. John, the Book of Job, the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, and the Revelation to St. John the Divine.

Similar anthems began the funeral service of President Reagan in 2004, the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 at Westminster Abbey, and funeral of President Eisenhower in 1969.

Posted 10:42 a.m., 1.2.2007


Jesup, Ga.: Who is the first person in the procession to enter the Cathedral? Why is he there?

John Johnson: Acolytes begin the procession. The twenty fifth Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold of the Episcopal Church followed by the Rev. Dr. Certain--the Ford's Family Rector-the Dean of the Cathedral the Very Rev. Samuel Lloyd, and then by the Bishop of Washington, John B. Chane.

Posted 10:43 a.m., 1.2.2007


NYC: I would like to see and hear the service, but I am at work today.

Would you be able to identify the hymns, anthems, voluntaries and readings? Do you know which of these were selected by Ford's family?

Thank you.

John Johnson: All of today's service information can be found at:

Posted 10:45 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: President Ford's coffin will now remain at rest in the trancept of the Cathedral.

Posted 10:47 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: Father Samuel Lloyd, the Dean of the Cathedral, is now reading the short prayer -- called the "Collect" -- that begins the service.

Posted 10:47 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: This passage from the Book of Isaiah, being read by Jack Ford, has been a favorite of many U.S. Presidents. President John F. Kennedy famously used it in his 1960 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Posted 10:48 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Rev. Sullivan says for those viewing the service online that the men and women wearing grey and purple robes are "lay vergers" of the Cathedral. The role of the Verger is to assist in the execution of the liturgy.

Posted 10:49 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN says: "The Cathedral Choir is now singing 'The King of Love My Shepherd Is,' which a musical paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm. The melody, called 'St. Columbia,' is a traditional Irish tune."

Posted 10:51 a.m., 1.2.2007

_______________________ Funeral for President Ford (Washington National Cathedral)

Posted 10:51 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: The New Testament reading we're hearing by Susan Ford Bales, from the Letter of St. James, speaks of being "quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, for anger does not produce God's righteousness."

These words seem particularly appropriate for a President whose legacy was reconciling a nation divided by anger at the time of Watergate.

Posted 10:54 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: President George H.W. Bush is now beginning service's first eulogy. President Bush and President Ford served in the House of Representatives together.

Like President Ford, President Bush is a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church.

Posted 10:57 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Former Secretary of State the Honorable Dr. Henry A. Kissinger is now making his tribute. Secretary Kissinger served as Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Posted 11:01 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: What is the significance of the object carried by the lay vergers during the ceremony? And what is it by the way? A staff? Sword?


John Johnson: Rev. Sullivan says, it is called the Mace. It is a sign of their office, and often has a symbol of a cross embedded on top.

Posted 11:07 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: While listening to Secretary Kissinger discuss international affairs, it's worth noting that President Ford took a deep interest in the international work of the Episcopal Church. The President and Mrs. Ford were active in raising money for Episcopal Relief and Development (formerly called the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief).

Posted 11:09 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: Now in the Cathedral lectern is NBC News journalist and former anchorman Tom Brokaw. Mr. Brokaw covered the Watergate scandal and the assent of Gerald Ford to the Presidency, and became a close and personal friend of the President and Mrs. Ford after they left office.

Posted 11:12 a.m., 1.2.2007


Mancos, Colo.: Why is the past Presiding Bishop present and not the current one?

John Johnson: Presiding Bishop Griswold was invited as are all other participants by the Ford Family.

Posted 11:15 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The President of the United States has now begun his tribute to President Ford.

Posted 11:20 a.m., 1.2.2007


Cincinnati, Ohio: At what church did President Kennedy worship?

Alex Baumgarten: I believe that President Kennedy and his family worshipped at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. He was buried from St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Cathedral near Dupont Circle Washington, where a plaque on the floor commemorates the place where his coffin lay.

Posted 11:21 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Anthem we are now hearing is O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts. It is a paraphrase of the 90th Psalm. It was played at Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral in the East Room of the White House and as his funeral train moved back to Hyde Park.

Posted 11:27 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN says: "The reading we are hearing Father Certain read from the Gospel according to John, is a traditional selection in the burial office. In it Jesus says to the disciples: 'In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.'"

Posted 11:30 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Today's Homilist is the Reverend Dr. Robert G. Certain, Rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church and School in Palm Desert, California.

Some interesting notes from Father Certain's biography include:

Robert Glenn Certain was born in Savannah, Georgia in December 1947. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating with a BA degree in History in 1969. A distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program there, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and became a navigator-bombardier, flying B-52 aircraft. At the end of his second tour of duty in Southeast Asia, he was shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam in December 1972, and held captive until the end of March 1973. As a result of his active military service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, five Air Medals, the Prisoner of War Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Posted 11:31 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Certains moved to Palm Desert, California in June 1998 following his election as the fifth Rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. St. Margaret's is a 2000 member parish with a parochial school of 180 students. The Parish and School have a staff of over 50, and a combined annual budget of over $2,000,000. As rector of the parish, he serves as pastor to former President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford. In the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego he has served on the Council, as a Deputy to two General Conventions, as President of the Standing Committee, and organized and hosted "The Big Event" in 2003.

Dr. Certain founded the Unchained Eagle Memorial Society, which helped raise funds to construct the National POW/MIA Memorial at the Riverside National Cemetery. His autobiography, Unchained Eagle: From Prisoner of War to Prisoner of Christ was published in July 2003.

Posted 11:31 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Father Certain served in the United States Air Force. He flew B-F52's and viewers might notice the bombardier's wings on his tippet. (The black scarf around his neck.)

Posted 11:33 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Who arranges and decides what hymns, prayers, songs, etc., are given at the presidential funeral?

Alex Baumgarten: The family, and in many cases the President himself, handle these logistics. Tom Brokaw spoke of the eulogists being selected by President Ford before he died.

It's been reported many times that President Ford and President Jimmy Carter had an agreement that whichever passed away first, the other would speak at his funeral. President Carter, while not speaking today, will be the main speaker at the Michigan funeral.

Posted 11:37 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: The world-famous soprano Denyce Graves is now signing a musical version of the Lord's Prayer. Ms. Graves has given many concerts at the Cathedral in the past, and has sung at past state events.

Posted 11:41 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: There are a number of Representatives from other Faith Traditions. They include:

Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Demitrios Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in American

The Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, III the XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

The Metropolitan Herman, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church in America

Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Senior Rabbi, Washington Hebrew Congregation

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Papal Nuncio to the United States

The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Catholic Archbishop of Washington

Posted 11:43 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Rear Adm Robert Burt, Chief of Navy Chaplains is now offering the Prayers of the People.

Posted 11:44 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: Do we know about or has President Ford made any comments regarding the recent divisions in the Episcopal Church?

Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN SAYS: "In his homily, Dr. Certain said that the President had spoken to him of working for reconciliation in the Church just as he had worked for reconciliation of the nation. President Ford's home-parish, St. Margaret's in Palm Desert, is a mainstream member of the Episcopal Church that has dealt openly and publicly with the challenging issues facing the Episcopal Church and other churches at the present time."

Posted 11:45 a.m., 1.2.2007


New York, N.Y.: It seems that the Episcopal Church was a great part of President Ford's life. How can we learn more about the Episcopal Church ... I'm interested in the church.

John Johnson: The Episcopal Church Welcomes You! You can find more information at This comes to you from The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations at

Posted 11:46 a.m., 1.2.2007


Houston, Tex.: Early on, the choir and orchestra played a remarkable piece that seemed to be Aaron Copeland. Can you identify the music? Thanks.

Alex Baumgarten: Yes, it is Aaron Copeland, and it is called "Fanfare for the Common Man." It was also played at the 1989 Funeral for Bishop John Walker, with whom President Ford worked closely on the completion of the Washington National Cathedral.

Posted 11:48 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Navy Hymn is now being sung by the Joint Forces Choir and Marine Corps Orchestra.

Posted 11:48 a.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: The commendation we are hearing, called the "Kontakion," is in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, but originates in the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The purpose of the commendation in the liturgy is to provide a note of dismissal for the body, as many worshipers will not be able to be present at the graveside. Its words are addressed to God "the Creator and maker of mankind," and underscores the theme of Resurrection: "Even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia, Alleluia!"

Posted 11:52 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The Blessing is now being offered by Bishop Chane and will be followed by the The Dismissal by Dean Lloyd.

Posted 11:53 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: Today's Honorary Pallbearers include:

Martin Allen

James Baker

Robert Barrett

James Cannon

Kenneth Chenault

Richard B. Cheney

William Coleman

Richard DeVos

Robert Dole

Richard Ford

Alan Greenspan

Robert Hartmann

Carla Hills

Henry Kissinger

Jack Marsh

Paul O'Neill

Donald H. Rumsfeld

Brent Scrowcroft

Sanford Weill

Frank Zarb

Posted 11:53 a.m., 1.2.2007


NYC: Music is one of the glories of the Episcopal Church, and there are many fine examples of that today, even if they lean towards the traditional. It is slightly disappointing that the congregation is not given more opportunity to sing. "For All the Saints" is a monumental hymn, but I can just imagine the effort it would take, at the end of the service and with no warmup, to make it through all eight verses.

Alex Baumgarten: THE REV. ROSEMARI SULLIVAN SAYS: "It is a matter of tradition in the Episcopal Church that all verses to every hymn be sung, honoring the fact that they often include a whole text of Scripture set in a poetic form. To omit a verse would make the thought incomplete. As is often said, 'the one who sings, prays twice.'"

Posted 11:54 a.m., 1.2.2007


Liverpool, England: The readings -- particularly from Isaiah -- were very evocative of the life of President Ford, especially on the need to put anger and bitterness aside. In the funeral liturgy of the Episcopal Church, is the ceremony designed to speak about the deceased or about God -- or perhaps a mixture of both?

John Johnson: In true Episcopal fashion, it is a mixture of both. All of our lives are to reflect the life of Christ; the scriptures chosen for our funerals can certainly parallel aspects of the life of the deceased.

Posted 11:57 a.m., 1.2.2007


Washington, D.C.: How many previous US presidents have been members and have been involved in the Episcopal Church? Who was the first?

Alex Baumgarten: Twelve U.S. presidents have been Episcopalians. The first was George Washington, the most recent was George H.W. Bush.

Posted 11:57 a.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: An honor guard including members of all services will now bear the coffin from the transcept through Nave of the Cathedral to the West Front.

Posted 0:00 p.m., 1.2.2007


John Johnson: The bells of the National Cathedral Toll as President Ford's coffin is borne from the Cathedral's West Front. A motorcade from the Cathedral will take the family and the President's body to Andrews Air Force Base for a flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Honorary Pallbearers are assembled as the coffin is taken to the Hearse.

Posted 0:06 p.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: As the body of the President is moved into the hearse to depart for Andrews Air Force Base, the band plays the hymn: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty."

Posted 0:08 p.m., 1.2.2007


Alex Baumgarten: As the Cathedral service concludes, we are signing off, but want to thank everyone who participated here today. A particular thank you to the Rev. Rosemari Sullivan for joining us today. Those who are interested in more information on the Episcopal Church can visit For more information on the funeral, visit

Posted 0:12 p.m., 1.2.2007

_______________________ Episcopal Church

Posted 0:14 p.m., 1.2.2007

_______________________ Funeral for President Ford (Washington National Cathedral)

Posted 0:15 p.m., 1.2.2007


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