The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Annual Dinner was held at the Capitol Hill Club on June 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Annual Dinner brought together Ford Family members, Foundation Trustees, Ford Administration Alumni and ‘Friends of Ford’ from throughout the country. The Foundation presented President Jimmy Carter with the 2017 Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
Although President Carter could not attend the event, his grandson Jason Carter thanked the Foundation and acknowledged the special bond between the two former Presidents and former First Ladies, Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter. Trustee Carla A. Hills announced the Award presentation, which included previously recorded footage of President Carter accepting the award from Foundation Chairman Red Cavaney, Trustee Carla A. Hills, and Trustee Steve Ford at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.
Hills recognized President Carter’s lifelong commitment to public service including tours in the U.S. Navy, two terms as U.S. Senator of Georgia, Governor of Georgia, President of the United States, and continued public service after his presidency. Hills noted President Carter advanced several foreign affairs initiatives during his term including returning control of the Panama Canal to Panama, leading the first peace treaty between Israel and Egypt under the Camp David Accords, and concluding the second round of Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) with the former Soviet Union.
Hills also highlighted President Carter’s continued worldwide public service after his presidency such as monitoring elections internationally, working to eradicate worm disease, and initiating village based health delivery services in Africa.
President Ford’s son and Trustee Steve Ford commented on the close relationship between President Ford and President Carter that started in 1981 after a long international flight together to attend former President of Egypt Anwar Sadat’s funeral. Ford noted the friendship formed from that point forward and shared his father’s comments after the trip, indicating how his father recognized the common values shared by the two Presidents.
Additionally, Hills presented the 2016 Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency to Gregory Korte of USA Today.
Hills presented the 2016 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense to David Martin and Mary Walsh of CBS News, pointing out that it was the first time broadcast media won the award. Additionally, Hill presented a Distinguished Reporting on National Defense Honorable Mention to David Cloud of The Los Angeles Times.
After the dinner, Chairman Cavaney shared a National Geographic video clip entitled “Gerald R. Ford: A Test of Character.” Cavaney characterized the video as “encapsulating the values, character traits, and leadership that Gerald R. Ford exhibited.” Cavaney also thanked former Ambassador Peter Secchia for both his generous financial contribution to the film and commissioning the effort to produce a life size statuette of President Ford on the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The Foundation’s Executive Director Joe Calvaruso recognized the important role of the National Archives and Records Administration. He also recognized Clare Shubert for the contributions made to the DeVos Learning Center at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. President Ford’s son, Trustee Michael Ford, delivered the invocation.
U.S. Army MSG Alvy Powell closed the event by singing “Ol’ Man River” and a medley of “God Bless the U.S.A.” and “God Bless America.” Cavaney thanked Powell for his service and friendship to President Ford and presented him a framed photograph of Powell and President Ford from the Presidential archives.