Secretary of State Henry
January 2, 2007
to an ancient tradition,
God preserves humanity
despite its many transgressions
because at any one period
there exist 10 just individuals
who, without being aware
of their role, redeem
Gerald Ford was such a man. Propelled into the presidency by a sequence of unpredictable events, he had an impact so profound it’s rightly to be considered providential.
and without guile, Gerald
Ford undertook to restore
the confidence of Americans
in their political institutions
and purposes. Never having
aspired to national office,
he was not consumed by
driving ambition. In his
understated way, he did
his duty as a leader,
not as a performer playing
to the gallery.
Gerald Ford had the virtues of small-town America: sincerity, serenity and integrity. As it turned out, the absence of glibness and his artless decency became a political asset, fostering an unusual closeness to leaders around the world, which continued long after he left office.
In recent days, the deserved commentary on Gerald Ford’s character has sometimes obscured how sweeping and lasting were his achievements.
Gerald Ford’s prudence and common sense kept ethnic conflicts in Cyprus and Lebanon from spiraling into regional war.
He presided over the final agony of Indochina with dignity and wisdom.
In the Middle East, his persistence produced the first political agreement between Israel and Egypt.
He helped shape the act of the Helsinki European Security Conference, which established an internationally recognized standard for human rights, now generally accepted as having hastened the collapse of the former Soviet empire.
He sparked the initiative to bring majority rule to southern Africa, a policy that was a major factor in ending colonialism there.
In his presidency, the International Energy Agency was established, which still forces cooperation among oil-consuming nations.
Gerald Ford was one of the founders of the continuing annual economic summit among the industrial democracies.
Throughout his 29 months in office, he persisted in conducting negotiations with our principal adversary over the reduction and control of nuclear arms.
Gerald Ford was always driven by his concern for humane values. He stumped me in his fifth day in office when he used the first call made by the Soviet ambassador to intervene on behalf of a Lithuanian seaman who four years earlier had in a horrible bungle been turned over to Soviet authorities after seeking asylum in America. Against all diplomatic precedent and, I must say, against the advice of all experts, Gerald Ford requested that the seaman, a Soviet citizen in a Soviet jail, not only be released but be turned over to American custody. Even more amazingly, his request was granted.
the final ordeal of Indochina,
Gerald Ford focused on
duty to rescue the maximum
number of those who had
relied on us. The extraction
of 150,000 refugees was
the consequence. And typically
Gerald Ford saw it as
his duty to visit one
of the refugee camps long
after public attention
had moved elsewhere.
Gerald Ford summed up his concern for human values at the European Security Conference, when looking directly at Brezhnev he proclaimed America’s deep devotion to human rights and individual freedoms. “To my country,” he said, “they’re not clichés or empty phrases.”
Historians will debate for a long time over which president contributed most to victory in the cold war. Few will dispute that the cold war could not have been won had not Gerald Ford emerged at a tragic period to restore equilibrium to America and confidence in its international role.
by his beloved wife, Betty,
and with the children
to whom he was devoted,
Gerald Ford left the presidency
with no regrets, no second-guessing,
no obsessive pursuit of
his place in history.
For his friends, he leaves an aching void. Having known Jerry Ford and having worked with him will be our badge of honor for the rest of our lives.
Early in his administration, Gerald Ford said to me: “I get mad as hell, but I don’t show it, when I don’t do as well as I should. If you don’t strive for the best, you will never make it.”
We are here to bear witness that Jerry Ford always did his best, and that his best proved essential to renew our society and restore hope to the world.