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OUR VIEW: Former president leaves legacy of integrity

From the day President Gerald Ford took his oath of office he held honesty and integrity to the highest statue. On that day Ford said, “I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. … In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.”

Ford set a standard that day and withheld it throughout his presidency, one he inherited following much leadership turmoil.

“I have not campaigned either for the presidency or the vice presidency,” Ford told the nation in his inaugural address on Aug. 9, 1974. “I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it.”

Ford took every aspect of his oath in stride, even the fact that he wasn’t elected into the presidential office.

“I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me with your prayers,” he said after beginning his stay in office.

Ford’s received much criticism following his decision to pardon President Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal. But in later years Ford was attributed for his courage and integrity during the controversy. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, acknowledging he had criticized Ford at one time, called the pardon “an extraordinary act of courage that historians recognize was truly in the national interest.”

All public officials should follow the example of the honesty, integrity and courage set by Ford.