Senator Jansen’s statement is as follows:
Today, we mourn the loss of a former first lady, Betty Ford. We measure America’s first ladies by how they mold and
shape the circumstances they inherit. Today, we do mourn the loss of an amazing first lady from the state of Michigan,
Betty Ford. She suddenly entered the spotlight on August 9, 1974, when her husband, Gerald Ford, took the presidential
oath of office.
With the exception of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, no president has inherited a situation as difficult
as that which faced President Ford. The United States was mired in an unpopular war halfway around the world that had
divided the country and had produced much anger, resentment, and mistrust. For the first and only time, a president had
resigned his office in disgrace.
Unlike Lincoln and Roosevelt, who had a full four months to prepare between their elections and inaugurations, Mr. Ford
was notified by President Nixon that he was resigning with only one day’s notice. He and his wife were thrust into the
Raised in a working class family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Betty Ford’s formative years proved valuable in helping
her tackle big challenges. Thrust into the limelight, Betty Ford exhibited several defining qualities that helped her
husband heal a nation and made her one of the most successful and accomplished first ladies in our nation’s history.
During her tenure as First Lady, Betty Ford tackled many public issues that were important to her. In 1978 after leaving
the White House, her prescription drug and alcohol use led to a family intervention and her selfadmittance to Long
Beach Naval Hospital for treatment. In facing her personal problems, Betty Ford again dealt openly and honestly with
the public. She became an active and outspoken champion of improved awareness, education, and treatment for alcohol
and other drug dependencies.
In 1982, Betty Ford founded the nonprofit Betty Ford Center at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage,
California. Mrs. Ford worked tirelessly to raise funds and to help research and design treatments to assist men, women,
and families in recovery from alcoholism and other drug dependency. Today, the Betty Ford Center is regarded as one of
the most outstanding treatment facilities in the world.
Mrs. Ford has been the recipient of many honors and awards. In 1991 President George H.W. Bush presented her with
the Presidential Medal of Freedom for providing selfless, strong, and refreshing leadership on a number of issues. In
1999 President and Mrs. Ford were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for dedicated public service and outstanding
humanitarian contributions. Viewed through the lens of history, she succeeded as First Lady. Her actions, stewardship, and tireless advocacy helped
heal a nation and opened a dialogue that has saved the lives of countless Americans. She and her husband restored
through their unquestioned character Americans’ confidence in the integrity and decency of their political leaders.
Betty Ford’s warmth and integrity left her with many friends. Betty Ford helped build a solid foundation for the future
while helping to heal a troubled nation. She deserves America’s admiration, as well as, its respect. I ask that the Senate
join me in a moment of silence in Mrs. Ford’s honor.