My wife decided to go view the casket of President Ford and told me it was a significant experience for her. I decided at 2:15 a.m. that I should not miss the experience, so I packed in the car and headed to downtown Grand Rapids. Lines were decidely shorter than when she had made the visit, and I was able to complete the viewing in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
I hit the time when a few visitors stopped on their way home from the bar. Not the best idea they ever had ... but at least they weren't driving I guess. On the otherhand the majority of people there were from all walks of life, a truly diverse slice of middle America (if you can call us diverse). Standing in line was a part of my overall experience. I met people, I talked with them about their lives and what this meant to them. The people in front of me were two college girls who made the drive from Western Michigan an hour south. Behind me was a couple and their daughter, perhaps 11 years old. Around me I saw several neighbors and many friends I know. Grand Rapids is not a big town in many ways.
After waiting several hours we made it outside and made our final wait on the pedestrian footbridge over the Grand River. It was a cool but beautiful night and the bridges of downtown were all lit with their decorative lights. The glowing blue sign in the background read "Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum". I'll be honest, I wasn't sure I would be that moved by going. But as you approached and saw the military officers, cold but proud it started to cause a feeling of pride inside.
Once you actually enter the Museum, you made a short loop past the casket and the seal of the president and the University of Michigan were displayed. But what struck me as simply awe inspiring was the Presidential Honor Guard. They didn't move. The only movement were their eyelids and even that was a controlled movement. Such respect gives me respect for our men and women in the military.
I'm glad I went and I feel sorry for those of you unable to make the journey and share in such a significant moment.
As you left the Museum you were given a memorial card that had a picture of the President in office and a summary of his biography.