US flags have flown at half mast across the country in honor of the late former US president Gerald Ford, as preparations for a state funeral were underway for the man who led America from its darkest political hour after the Watergate scandal.
President Bush has declared that Tuesday will be a day of mourning for former President Gerald Ford, who died this week, a White House spokesman said on Thursday. Bush's declaration means that federal offices will be closed on that day.
Ford will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, where 10 other presidents have been honored. But he also will lie in repose outside the chambers of the House - where he honed his leadership skills - and the Senate, where - as vice president - he served in his constitutional role as the chamber's president.
The mourning ends five days later with Ford's entombment on a hillside near his Grand Rapids, Mich., presidential museum.
Events begin at St. Margaret's Church in Palm Desert, which Ford and his wife, Betty, frequently attended. A family prayer service will be followed by visitation by friends and a period of public repose.
On Saturday, Ford's body will be flown to Washington in late afternoon, where another special stop is planned. The hearse will pause at the World War II memorial in joint tribute to the wartime Navy reserve veteran and America's armed forces.
The state funeral will be conducted in the Capitol Rotunda that evening. The public will be admitted to pay respects - sometime after a 6:30 p.m. EST arrival ceremony - and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Sunday and Monday.
Ford will lie in state until Tuesday morning, in a closed casket. Then, his casket will be moved to the National Cathedral for a funeral service. Interment will follow the next day in Michigan.
His widow, Betty, said the outpouring of appreciation for the former president's contributions is "more than we could ever have anticipated.
"These kindnesses have made this difficult time more bearable."