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Memorial Services Begin for Former President Ford

Friday is the first of five days of memorial services for former U.S. President Gerald Ford.

The Republican leader, who was credited with reassuring America at a time of turmoil, died Tuesday at the age of 93.

Mr. Ford's coffin will be on view, for family and then the public, at a church near his home in Rancho Mirage, California. On Saturday, his body will be flown to Washington to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. A state funeral will be held that evening.

President Bush has declared a day of national mourning for Tuesday. Funeral services will be held for Mr. Ford that day at Washington's National Cathedral.

Mr. Ford's remains will be buried Wednesday on the grounds of his presidential library in his hometown in the northern state of Michigan.

Tributes from fellow politicians and friends have highlighted what they have called the late president's integrity and decency.

Mr. Ford, the nation's 38th leader, was the only American to serve as both president and vice president without being elected to either office. President Richard Nixon appointed Mr. Ford vice president in 1973, when scandal forced then Vice President Spiro Agnew from office. Mr. Ford rose to the top office when Mr. Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment in 1974.

Mr. Ford served two-and-a-half years, during which time he is credited with soothing the nation after the trauma of the Vietnam War and the Watergate political scandal that forced Mr. Nixon from office.

His pardon of Mr. Nixon from any crimes during Watergate earned him the wrath of Mr. Nixon's opponents and is thought by some historians to have cost him the election in 1976. But the same historians also point out that by pardoning the disgraced leader, Mr. Ford helped the country recover more quickly.

On Tuesday, all non-essential federal offices will be closed, as will the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq stock market.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.