I finally found reports of the ceremonies at Millard Fillmore’s gravesite, from January 7, Fillmore’s 215th birth anniversary. This one comes from the Seneca (New York) Bee:
Historian delivers annual address at Fillmore memorial
by MARY BEST
Frigid temperatures didn’t turn away a crowd at the 50th annual Millard Fillmore Commemoration Ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Jan. 7.
The program, presented by the University at Buffalo and co-hosted by Forest Lawn and the Buffalo Club, was celebrated on Fillmore’s 215th birthday. Robert Goller, Town of Aurora historian, gave the memorial address.
New York Air National Guard Col. Kevin Rogers began the ceremony by laying a wreath at Fillmore’s grave site from President Barack Obama, in keeping with tradition of past presidents. Deputy Mayor of the City of Buffalo Ellen Grant also presented a wreath, later adorned with pins from representatives of Fillmore’s legacy organizations.
Fillmore returned to Buffalo following his loss of the 1852 presidential election. He had a hand in establishing and ensuring the survival of many organizations including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System, the SPCA serving Erie County and the University at Buffalo.
Due to the subzero wind chill, Goller delivered the memorial address from the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center after the wreath dedications.
Goller began his address describing Fillmore’s humble beginnings, including the rough journey Fillmore took from Central New York on foot to arrive to his family’s home in Aurora.
“It’s easy to forget that in Millard Fillmore’s day, there wasn’t even a railroad to take the future president halfway across New York State,” Goller said.
The Aurora Historical Society, which runs the Millard Fillmore National Historic Landmark Museum, is also raising funds to commemorate Fillmore’s legacy by commissioning a presidential site to include a statue and a recreation of Fillmore’s law office. Goller also noted Fillmore’s role presiding over the Senate as vice president during a turbulent time in history, which dealt with slavery and secession.
Fillmore’s greatest legacy, however, happened after his time at the White House was over, an often overlooked period of time, according to Goller.
“While Fillmore’s presidency was relatively short, he was probably one of the most effective at using the power of the post-presidency to lend support to important efforts,” Goller said. “The word retirement certainly didn’t describe Millard Fillmore after he left the White House, and we have a much better community today because of it.”
Goller ended by noting the revitalization of Buffalo, most notably the development at the waterfront. He credited Fillmore with igniting the fire when he showed the same passion in the Western New York Community more than a century ago.
“We must not forget that it’s the people, not necessarily the buildings that make the community thrive,” Goller said. “Today we honor one of those people who saw potential in our community and maybe do our best as stewards of our community to continue Millard Fillmore’s legacy of civic pride and community spirit.”