Former President Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006. His widow issued the statement.
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?Mortality, William Knox (1789-1825), was the favorite poem of Abraham Lincoln.
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around, and together be laid;
And the young and the old, the low and the high,
Shall molder to dust, and together shall lie.
[. . .]
So the multitude goes - like the flower or the weed
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes - even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same that our fathers have been;
We see the same sights that our fathers have seen;
We drink the same stream, we feel the same sun,
And run the same course that our fathers have run.
[. . .]
They loved - but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned - but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved - but no wail from their slumber will come;
They joyed - but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
They died - aye, they died - we things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye - 'tis the draught of a breath -
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Former President Ford was a better president than this country has seen in decades.