It's Presdents Day. Other than it's a holiday for government workers and you can't do any business at the bank, it's not all that big a deal. But, then again, the day is to honor our Presidents, so it ought to get a bit of our attention.
I'm not in the mood to test myself right now, but there was a time when I could recite the names of all the Presidents in order, their dates of office, and their political party. I had this college professor who didn't think one should have a liberal arts degree without such knowledge.
You can learn lots of interesting things about our forty-four Presidents by surfing the web. Did you know that George W. Bush has the most autographed baseballs of all the Presidents? Yep, he has 250 of them. Did you know his Dad, President forty-one, crashed four planes in World War II.
Of the first five Presidents, three of them died on July 4th. And Calvin Coolidge was the onlyPresident born on July 4th. President Grant is the only President known to have gotten a speeding ticket. He was fined $20 because his horse and carriage were going too fast. James Madison was only five foot four inches and weighed less than 100 pounds while President Taft weighed 332 pounds.
President Martin van Buren was the first President born an American citizen. And Andrew Jackson was the first President to ride a train. One has to wonder how John Tyler found time to be President. The man sired fifteen kids. President Zachary Taylor never voted in a Presidential election.
President Herbert Hoover and his wife spoke Chinese to each other when they didn't want others to know what they were saying. Thomas Jefferson's gravestone does not mention he was President. John Adams was the defense attorney for the British soldiers who participated in the Boston Massacre. President Harding lost a set of White House china. He bet it while gambling. Harry Truman read every book in his hometown library.
President Lyndon Johnson was once an automobile mechanic. Gerald Ford hosted his daughter's high school prom at the White House. President Jimmy Carter was the first President born in a hospital. James Garfield could write with both hands at the same time in two different languages. Rutherford B. Hayes was the first President to use a telephone. His phone number was One.
It's amazing that this country has elected forty-four Presidents and that each of them has quietly relinquished power to the next one. It's also amazing that the ones who served more than four years did so. Who would want the job after the stress of the first four years.
I'm old enough to remember sitting by the radio, the large console radio, listening to Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats. And I've survived into a age when through the power of the internet a President can personally contact virtually every person in the country. Twelve Presidents have served in my lifetime; that's almost a third of all the Presidents. Some of the Presidents were great; some thought they were great but turned out to be otherwise. Some got my vote; some didn't. Some fooled us all by rising above expectations. Some were less than expected.
From Washington to Obama the parade of Presidents has made this nation what it is. And so, deservedly each of us should say, “Thank you, Mr. President.”