Written by Marge Sallee, Kansas
The passing of President Gerald Ford in late December brought back a very vivid memory of the man himself. Like most Americans, I watched a lot of the television coverage of the funeral services, the lying in state in various places around the country, and felt a deep appreciation for both the man and the office.
However, my family was personally touched by this former President. One nice summer day when he was fairly new in office, we went to a local hotel where he was meeting with some local dignitaries on a visit to Overland Park. Since the hotel was within a couple of miles of our house, we decided to drive over to see if we might actually see a living US President. We didn't think we would be successful, but he was so near to our home that we didn't want to miss the opportunity.
We stood right along the circle driveway leading up to the entrance to the hotel and waited. Before too long the sleek Presidential limousine pulled in and went past us. We couldn't actually see the man because of the tinted glass, but we were thrilled just knowing we were that close to him.
Unexpectedly the limousine came to a halt not too far away, and the President himself emerged. He walked back to the area where the small crowd was standing, reaching out for hands, saying "Good morning," and smiling as he went along. Our oldest daughter, Diane, was in junior high at the time, and she was standing in the front row. The President reached out and shook her hand. She was beaming, as we all were. It is a wondrous thing to be touched by a President -- a magical moment that happens only on rare occasions.
She swore she would never wash that hand again. She told everyone she saw that President Ford had shaken that hand.
No doubt that President touched many lives in different ways, but we will never forget how he literally touched our daughter in a spontaneous moment. That memory stays with us to this day.
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