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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 01:56 GMT
Ford's body arrives in Washington
Flags fly at half-mast at the foot of the Washington Monument
Flags are flying at half mast across America in honour of Mr Ford
Ceremonies have begun in Washington to honour the former US President, Gerald Ford, who died on Tuesday, aged 93.

Mr Ford's coffin was flown to an air base in the capital and was received by honorary pallbearers including US Vice President Dick Cheney.

A solemn procession to the US Capitol followed, where the body will lie in state until Tuesday.

Earlier in California, thousands of mourners paid their final respects at a church where Mr Ford used to worship.

After a cross-country flight, Mr Ford's body arrived at Andrews Air Force Base.

Other pallbearers include former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and Gerald Ford's half-brother, Richard.

A modest motorcade then made its way towards Capitol Hill, where Mr Ford spent nearly 25 years as a representative in the House, before serving as the 38th US president from 1974-76.

Gerald Ford in 1974
Friday: Viewing at California church where he worshipped in Palm Desert
Saturday: Lying in state begins at US Capitol
Tuesday: Day of national mourning, funeral at National Cathedral in Washington
Wednesday: Service and burial in Grand Rapids, Michigan

There was a pause in front of Washington's WWII memorial in homage to Mr Ford's wartime service in the US navy before another ceremony at the steps of the Capitol Building.

In a tribute in his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Bush described Mr Ford as "one of the finest public servants America has ever known".

"Gerald Ford's life spanned nine decades, and took him from the football fields of his boyhood in Michigan to the halls of power in Washington DC. At every stage of his journey he displayed a decency, patriotism and courage that America will always admire," he said.

The series of solemn tributes to Mr Ford began on Friday with a private family service at St Margaret's Episcopal Church in California, where the former president used to worship.

Later, the family was joined by some 300 guests, including former Secretary of State George Schultz and former New York Congressman Jack Kemp.

Thousands of mourners later paid their final respects.

Bush speech

The former president had suffered ill health this year and was taken to hospital four times for tests and angioplasty. He suffered a stroke in 2000.

He was unelected, taking office after Richard Nixon quit over the Watergate scandal.

President George W Bush led tributes to Mr Ford, saying he helped restore confidence in his office after Watergate.

He is expected to pay his respects once he returns to Washington on Monday. The president will also speak at Tuesday's funeral service at the National Cathedral.

Mr Ford's coffin will then be taken to Grand Rapids, Michigan - where he spent most of his childhood and practised law - for burial on a hillside near his presidential library on Wednesday.

Ceremonies to honour former President Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford: Life in pictures
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13 Nov 06 |  Americas
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13 Oct 06 |  Americas
US ex-President Ford in hospital
16 Aug 06 |  Americas
Doctors confident of Ford recovery
03 Aug 00 |  Americas

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