GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Thirty-five years after it first opened, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in downtown Grand Rapids has a brand new look with all the technological bells and whistles that a $15 million renovation can buy.
“We had a great leader in Jerry Ford,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said at the Tuesday morning rededication for the museum. “He was willing to make tough decisions, some of which cost him dearly politically, but he did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Before Cheney was President George W. Bush’s vice president, he worked for the Ford administration. He attributes his career largely to his early relationship with Ford.
The experience “fundamentally changed my life,” Cheney said.
“I worked for him while he was president, then I went back home to Wyoming and ran for Congress and he was the inspiration for that. Later on to defense (secretary), vice presidency and so forth, and none of that would have happened without time spent with Jerry Ford back in the ’70s,” Cheney continued.>>App users: Watch the rededication ceremony here
Also at the rededication, an 18-year-old author headed to college this fall echoed the principles held by a president who had already been out of office 20 years by the time she was born.
“It is this generosity, humility and sense of civic duty that individuals recognized in President Ford and it is what made him and makes his family still today so special in the heart of every life that they have touched,” Juliette Turner, the national youth director for Constituting America, said during the rededication, which was largely aimed at the young people in attendance.DEVOS LEARNING CENTER
Some of those audience members may be among the first to take advantage of the new DeVos Learning Center that was also dedicated Tuesday. Doug DeVos represented the family at the event and told 24 Hour News 8 that the 8,000-square-foot center will help preserve the leadership model set by Ford.
“The principles he used to lead and the way he stuck to those principles in tough times … to have a place where we can study and learn about that — not just from a historical perspective but to think about how that applies to our lives and how they apply to our future — that’s really the purpose of what this is all about,” DeVos said.
The learning center will allow students to dig deeper into history and see how it applies to today and moving forward as they become tomorrow’s leaders.
The learning center and museum are open to the public and free of charge until 8 p.m. Tuesday.