The faint sound of cannons echoed throughout downtown Grand Rapids Monday as officials rehearsed for Ford's arrival. Cameras weren't permitted at the run-through, but civilians were. Jeff Yonker of Kentwood says even though it was just a rehearsal, "It's still pretty emotional."
Those emotions are still running high days after Ford's death. Mourners are expressing their sadness by saying prayers, snapping shots and leaving little mementos.
"[My family and I] came here to make our little assemblage of flags because this doesn't happen very often," says Mark Schaibley.
Anne Detmers of Rockford says "taking pictures and recording everything" is like watching history in the making.
The funeral isn't until Wednesday, but Grand Rapids is already a bastion of national news media and attention.
"It's weird to hear Grand Rapids on the national news!" says Detmers.
And the crowds will only get bigger. Hundreds of thousands are expected to show up between Tuesday and Wednesday. Streets throughout the city will be blocked off as a motorcade brings Ford's body to the Ford Museum. But the detours won't deter Ford's well-wishers from making their presence known.
"It's amazing, the people are all out here. It's cold, it's rainy, but they're watching a piece of history," says Detmers.
"I think it's important," agrees Schaibley. "We should honor people who live their lives in a respectable way."
And whether or not these mourners stick around until Tuesday to see their president arrive in Grand Rapids for the last time, they've already been a part of history.