August 8, 1974, my family was vacationing in Myrtle Beach.
I was in the pool that evening when Mother came to the rail of our second-floor motel room, “Darin! Hurry!” I am certain I asked the reason and an exchange of “Just hurry!” ensued.
My mother knew I would not want to miss the unfolding events. Despite my young age of 9 years, I had followed The Watergate Hearings and other news regarding Nixon’s White House.
I listened to the president’s resignation speech.
The following morning my family curtailed our time at the beach so that I could watch President Nixon’s farewell to his staff and the subsequent oath of office to be taken by Vice-President Ford.
Every time the camera panned across Mrs. Nixon’s face I can remember scouring it for any sense of emotion. To the end, the gracious woman remained heroically stoic.
Through the years I’ve read much on Mrs. Nixon’s life and The Watergate and Resignation chapters are so gut-wrenching. It is reported that once the helicopter lifted from the lawn of The White House for the final time of her husband’s tenure, she looked down and said, “It’s so sad. It’s all so sad.”
As Air Force One (the SAM 2700 now residing at The National Museum of The United States Air Force) crossed over Missouri, pilot Colonel Ralph Albertazzie learned Vice-President Gerald Ford had been sworn in. Col. Albertzzie contacted the Kansas City Center to request the aircraft’s call sign be changed from Air Force One to SAM 2700.
An aide leaned over to the resigned president to let him know Ford had taken the oath. Nixon nodded, “thank you.”
It was over.
Here are some photographs of that day. These photos have been etched into our minds and our country’s story.