The Nation's Capital to Pay Honors to Ford [a crowd-powered photo tribute]
A man of his day ... THE President for his time. May GOD continue to bless Gerald Ford.
WASHINGTON - The hallmarks of a presidential funeral, a rare and solemn spectacle, began to fall into place Wednesday as the nation mourned the death of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president, and prepared to accord his memory the capital's highest honors.
Ford's body was expected to lie in state this weekend in the Capitol Rotunda, offering both dignitaries and the public a chance to pay final respects to the former Michigan congressman who rose to the White House in the collapse of Richard Nixon's presidency.
The cathedral service was expected Tuesday.
Tentative preparations made before Ford's death called for a small, private ceremony in California, an opportunity for the public to pay respects there, plus Washington events and a final public viewing at Ford's presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., before his interment on the museum grounds.
He would be the 11th president to lie in state in the Rotunda.
Tentative plans called for Ford's hearse to pause by the World War II memorial on the National Mall. Ford was a naval reservist in the war, serving aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
Ex-presidents routinely are involved in their funeral planning with the Military District of Washington, which turned to the task quietly but with increasing urgency as Ford went through several bouts of ill health in recent years.
The nation has only witnessed two presidential state funerals in more than 30 years _ those of Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Lyndon Johnson in 1973. Nixon's family, acting on his wishes, opted out of the Washington traditions when he died in 1994, his presidency shortened and forever tainted by the Watergate scandal.
But if a chosen ceremony requires mourners to be seated, for example, seating arrangements are detailed with a precision dictated by tradition. The presidential party is followed by chiefs of state, arranged alphabetically by the English spelling of their countries.
Royalty representing chiefs of state come next, and then heads of governments followed by other officials.