Chris Pizzello / AP
A military honor guard carries the casket of former first lady Betty Ford into her funeral at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif., Tuesday, July 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Thanks to a Delta all-night flight to LAX, a long drive through the desert to Palm Springs, a return American Airlines redeye last night (after a return drive through the desert) I was able to attend Mrs. Ford's funeral yesterday, and what a towering honor it was to be in attendance. As I told lifelong friends of the Ford Family from Grand Rapids yesterday, I suspect it will still take historians a generation or two to fully grasp the importance of President and Mrs. Ford in modern American history.
An email from an old boss today reminded me: Viewers of our first (East Coast) feed last night might have thought something was amiss—I appeared, pre-recorded, at the top of the broadcast and again at the bottom of the broadcast to introduce my interview with the Medal of Honor Recipient, Leroy Petry. Ann Curry told our viewers that I was inside the service and was expected to emerge any minute to share my thoughts about the event. But I was held up inside for security reasons— and I'm afraid all our viewers saw was my pre-recorded introduction—and no mention of Mrs. Ford. Luckily, I was able to emerge from the service and talk about Mrs. Ford and the lovely remembrance for our three subsequent feeds. I apologize if it gave the wrong impression for our East Coast viewers.
The most incredible sight from the 7th row of the church: The fact that every President going back to Kennedy was represented by bloodlines in that Church. Growing up as a young man watching the Ford family with other Americans, I never dreamed I would come as close to history, or attend such an event.
We're back in New York tonight and we hope you can join us.