Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goodbye Mrs. Ford

I felt profound sadness this week at the passing of Betty Ford at age 93. Born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, she and her husband Gerald inherited a spotlight they had not sought, and did their best to restore honor and dignity at a critical time in our country's history. I admire them both for that.

But Betty Ford went above and beyond her role as First Lady. Her fearless candor earned her the respect of a nation. Speaking openly about breast cancer, and later addiction, she brought secrets out into the open and helped people to find a road to treatment. In addition, she was one of the first political figures to embrace the cause of AIDS. She saved lives through her personal courage.

The Fords came to us in 1977 and have been a fixture in the Coachella Valley ever since, settling in Rancho Mirage where she opened the Betty Ford Center in 1982. The Valley was very emotional at saying goodbye to someone we have come to regard as "Our First Lady." I went to see the Motorcade on Wednesday as a small token of respect to someone who did more good than she will ever know. I chatted with strangers about a couple few of us had ever met, but who touched our lives.

Goodbye, Mrs. Ford. We will always have a very special place in our hearts for you.

News trucks await the motorcade.

CHP Motorcycle officers secure the intersections

BMW Motorcycles scream by ahead of the Motorcade

CHP Officers stand at attention for the Motorcade

The Motorcade turns onto Gene Autry Trail

Mrs. Ford rides in a top-of-the-line S and S Victoria Coach upon Cadillac chassis.

My last glimpse of her.

An Air Force 757-200, nicknamed "Air Force Two" awaits her on the Tarmac.

She will fly as Special Air Mission 90004, or SAM90004 on the trip to Grand Rapids.

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