Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 15, and to pay tribute to a dear friend and remarkable American. Today, we honor the life and memory of our nation's 38th President, Gerald R. Ford. The consideration of this legislation is of great personal importance to me, as I had the honor and distinction of counting President Ford not only as a friend but also as a constituent.
These past few weeks, the American people have come to know the story of one of our most beloved leaders, a man who brought our nation together during a tumultuous time and restored faith in our democratic system of government. President Ford famously said, "Our Constitution works, our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men." Yet, the truth is that our system works because of people like Gerald R. Ford and his wonderful wife, Betty - people who dedicated their lives to making our country strong and improving the prospects for all American citizens.
Despite achieving great success as an athlete, President Ford declined the opportunity to play professional football because he wanted to serve the nation he loved. He went to Yale to study law, served heroically in the U.S. Navy during World War II, honorably represented the people of Michigan in this very House for 25 years, and was selected to serve as Vice President because he had the confidence of the U.S. Congress and was simply the best man for the job. He assumed the Presidency he never sought because, when called, he never shied from his duty to his country.
His personal integrity was beyond question and his quiet strength steadied our nation in a time of crisis. President Ford skillfully led our nation through the post-Watergate era, he laid the groundwork for an historic peace accord in the Middle East, and steered our country through tough economic times. History has shown that he was the right leader for those difficult days.
In California's Coachella Valley, where President Ford and Betty made their home after leaving the White House, their support of charities, too numerous to mention, helped make them the beloved "first-couple" of the Palm Springs region. As lifelong partners who were truly devoted to one another and to their family, the Fords encouraged millions of dollars in donations to many worthwhile causes. When Betty Ford courageously raised public awareness of dependency issues and founded the recovery clinic in her name, President Ford stood squarely and quietly behind her every step of the way.
I extend my deepest sympathy to Betty and the entire Ford family for their loss, a loss we all share. As we begin this Congressional session in the House which he loved so deeply, I think we would be well-served to remember the example of leadership and selfless duty to country that President Ford provided. We celebrate his memory and our nation is better for his service.