By Victor Blackwell
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The old news reels of President Ford's visit to Jacksonville have worn over the years, but State Representative Don Davis remembers the day clearly.
"It was Sunday, November 2, 1975," said Davis
At the time, Davis was president of Deerwood Country Club, where President Ford spent a night in a private home. The street on which the home sits has been renamed Presidential Drive.
"They were lining the streets when his car drove through the gates at Deerwood," said Davis. "They were waving their American flags," he added.
During the day, President Ford met with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the Mason family home. It's now the Epping Forest Yacht Club.
President Ford was in Jacksonville to discuss nuclear weapons and civil war in Lebanon with President Sadat.
The Jacksonville talks led in part to the Camp David Accords of 1978 under the Carter Administration.
"He accomplished a great deal during his presidency," said Davis.
Davis keeps a copy of the remarks President Ford made during his visit as a reminder of the person he calls a great president and a great man.
The following are remarks made by President Ford upon arrival at NAS Jacksonville, courtesy of Americanpresidency.org:
Admiral Green, Captain Bernstein, Mayor Tanzler, Senator Chiles, Congress. man Burke, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
First, I am deeply grateful for the warm welcome by Admiral Green and all of you from the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. I am most appreciative, on behalf of Mrs. Ford and myself, that so many of you have come out on a Sunday on this occasion.
As all of you know, I am in the process of having further very important meetings with President Sadat of Egypt. It is quite interesting, in my judgment, that I am meeting this afternoon with a man who represents a country whose history goes back literally centuries and centuries and centuries.
And at the same time, I am in a part of our country where we have some contrast between the old and the new. Jacksonville is a relatively modern city, historically, and certainly a very progressive city in our development of our great country.
But not far from here we have the oldest city in the United States--St. Augustine. So, in a relatively small part of this great country, we have a history that goes back from the very beginning and a community that represents progress and tremendous enthusiasm and drive.
I believe this shows the diversity of America. And this diversity in this great country is one of our strengths as we meet the challenges both at home and abroad.
But we cannot, in this country, solve our problems at home or meet our commitments internationally if we don't have a strong national defense program. It is vitally important for peace that we have a national defense program second to none.
All of you at the naval air station in Jacksonville perform a great service in that regard. I know of the missions and responsibilities that you have here. You have the helicopter antisubmarine warfare unit that does a tremendous job. You have the long-range naval capability in the antisubmarine warfare area. You have nuclear-powered naval vessels.
This naval air station is a vital part of our total national security capability, and what you do here protects 214 million Americans. And on behalf of them, I thank you for your contribution.
A long, long time ago, I was a part of the Navy. I was very proud of that association for some 47 months. I learned a lot. I hope I contributed a little. But I know from firsthand experiences the trials and tribulations of serving in our uniformed services.
The men and women who serve do a superb job. But the wives and the children of men in service--Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard-are likewise making a great contribution, because I know of the sacrifices they make over the years in performing their part of this service. And' I thank them for what I know they do.
Let me say, in conclusion, that the meetings that I am having today and the ones that I had earlier in the week with President Sadat relate to a better and more peaceful world. But I can go and have these discussions, these talks from a position of strength, and all of you are a very vital and important part of that strength.
So, it makes my job easier, it makes my job easier; it makes our country more secure to know that we have people like you serving in our national security forces.
Thank you very, very much.
First Coast News