In the continued exploring of our new state, Michigan, this week my husband and I headed to Grand Rapids to check out the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. It was quite an impressive place. Beautiful grounds and building.
Along with a reflecting pond with fountain there were beautiful flowers around the area where President Ford and his wife, Betty Ford, are buried.
I am an American history nut and have a large collection of biographies of our presidents, their wives and family members. To be honest, I was never a fan of President Ford. Perhaps it was because he was the only president never actually elected to office. Perhaps it was because he began the process of allowing draft dodgers and those who fled to Canada to escape the Vietnam War back into the country. My first husband had served in Vietnam and that was a painful time for us all.
Today I feel he did the right thing but at the moment he was not on my list of favorite people.
So – the only reason I went to his museum was because Grand Rapids is very close to where I live. It seemed I should add this presidential museum to the list of those presidents whose libraries I have already visited. But I said I would never drive a long way to see his burial place.
Was I ever wrong? After taking the time to review all the history of his time in office I came away realizing I had let personal feelings from that difficult time in our history color my views.
Another reason why it is so important that we study and know our history. After spending over two hours taking in all the events of his time in office, I approached his grave site with much more respect for the man than I had when I first came to the museum.
There was so much to take in. It was a step back through memory lane as his time in office was the time of my young adult life when I was a young mother just beginning my family. Many of the politicians and famous people shown in the exhibits were people that were on the daily news every evening. Many are now dead – or extremely old.
It was interesting to see a young Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfield, George H. W. Bush and a Dick Cheney with hair!
Funny how time passes and as look back on times past, we often see things in a totally different light.