Andrew Jackson was our 7th President, following John Quincy Adams. He was born before the American Revolution, on March 15, 1767.
[We’ve been preoccupied here in Bathtubland, with family issues; but somehow I let Richard Nixon’s birthday go by without a comment. We really need to remember Nixon now, and why he left the presidency early. So, a couple days late.]
President Richard Milhous Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California, on January 9, 1913.
Interesting to see so little public acknowledgement of Nixon’s presidency and his trials and vexations, which history offers insight and perhaps solutions to problems the nation has today.
Some views of Richard Nixon.
Nixon’s life offers many interesting twists and turns. His Watergate scandal rather overshadows much of the rest — I think high school textbooks do not spend enough time on telling why Nixon was considered a good candidate for the presidency after losing to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election, nor do they dwell enough on the effect of the Cold War on his career, and his effect on the Cold War. Check your kid’s U.S. history book — is the Kitchen Debate even mentioned?
Nixon would have been 105 years old on January 9. We might pause to reflect, and learn, from his life and trials.
- Rains forced the birthday ceremony indoors at the Nixon Library; the Orange County Register had a story on the affair with photographs
- Wikipedia says Nixon said these wise words: “Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.“
- A more complete biography, Nixon’s speeches and much more material, at the Miller Center, at the University of Virginia — excellent source for Document-Based Questions, and for student research for projects and essays
- U.S. National Archives (NARA) on-line materials for teachers, documents assembled on historical turning points in the Nixon-Ford administrations
Millard Fillmore, future 13th President of the United States, was born on January 7, 1800, in upstate New York.
Victim of one of the most infamous hoaxes in history, Millard Fillmore’s good works are often forgotten.
It’s that hoax that gives the name to this blog, and preventing or stopping other similar hoaxes which is the hope of the author.
In the past 50 years residents of Buffalo revived the reputation of Fillmore, and started a tradition of celebrating his birthday.
But so far as I have found, no bathtub races occurred this year.
Actions convey messages. Actions communicate. How one acts in regarding the U.S. flag, at different times when action is required, tells something about character — whether one was even paying attention when respect for the flag, and the ideals it portrays, was explained.
President Ford’s casket lies in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. New York Times photo by Todd Heisler.
Back in early 2007 I discussed some of the flag etiquette we saw at the funeral of President Gerald R. Ford. We see these things again at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush. Let’s repeat the observations.
Here are a few things you may have observed during the services for President Ford, which you may observe again at the funeral of George H. W. Bush, with minor edits:
1. On his coffin, the U.S. flag’s union will always be over President Bush’s left shoulder. This is a reversal from the usual display method for the flag; in display on a wall, the field should always be in the upper left as one observes it, the “northwest” corner (as if looking at a map); on a coffin, that would put the flag over the person’s right shoulder. Instead, on a coffin the flag is draped so the union is over the left shoulder, usually explained as being over the soldier’s heart. Also, note that a flag-draped casket should be carried foot first to the grave.
2. Since Bush is a military veteran, the flag should accompany the casket to the grave, but not into it (I believe this applies also to presidents if they did not serve, but in any case it applies to Bush). The flag will be folded in the traditional seafaring triangle fold, and presented to the Bush family before the casket is lowered into the grave.
3. When the flag is folded at the cemetery, watch how carefully the military people will work to get each fold just right. Their goal is a perfect fold, which will leave only the blue field of stars from the union showing, in a triangular fold. To get it right, the color guard (pall bearers, I presume in this case) will take its time. Occasionally the flag team will halt and unfold the flag, and refold, if the process is not proceeding just exactly right. But that is rare; the flag folding team sacrifices speed, for care. If the ceremony proceeds very quickly, I would be surprised.
4. It is unlikely that there will be any ceremonial reading during the folding of the flag. Any reading given, however, would be selected by the family. In the past couple of decades, presidential funerals have been planned out well in advance of the event. Differences between Bush’s funeral in 2018, Ford’s funeral in 2007 and Reagan’s funeral in 2004, are due to the different plans of the families, not due to any formal procedure required by U.S. law or tradition. We’re a democratic nation, and such ceremonies are not sacred writ. (I have written here before about the mistaken idea that there is an “official” flag folding ceremony with specific meaning given to each of the 13 foldings of the flag; there is no official ceremony. There is no official meaning ascribed to the folding of the flag; the triangular fold is a convenience at sea, where flags folded into the triangle will unfurl without fouling or snagging as they rise up the mast. We continue that tradition on land.)
In general, the flag will be treated respectfully. Do not expect to see a lot of flag waving during the service. When the flag is present, it will be treated soberly, with care, with special attention to getting official ceremonial details correct.
Students, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts should pay attention.
- Associated Press photo by Lawrence Jackson. Telephoto showing some of the 50 flags surrounding the Washington Monument flying at half-mast in honor of the late President Gerald Ford, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background. The Capitol is more than a mile away from the Washington Monument; compression of the images by the telephoto lens makes the dome appear much closer.
Minor update: The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Press has an informative article about flag etiquette in this situation, here.
- Flags at half-mast to honor President Ford
- News coverage of “new” flag ceremony for Air Force
- Fisking a flag fold flogging
- Flag ceremony update
- Flag ceremony update, 2
2018 update: President George H. W. Bush’s casket lies in state, in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, on the catafalk originally constructed to hold the casket of President Abraham Lincoln.
Martin van Buren was our nation’s 8th president, serving one term, 1837-1841.
This photo is roughly 15 years after van Buren left office, taken in the Washington, D.C., studio of Matthew Brady, whose photography gained fame from his work photographing battle sites during the American Civil War.
Martin van Buren was born December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York. He is the only president to have the first name Martin. He’d be 236 years old today, and still king of the mutton chop sideburns among presidents.
One the grammar school myths of Van Buren is that the initials for his nickname, “Old Kinderhook,” are the origins of the term “O.K.”
Van Buren died on July 24, 1862.
- Ridiculed in his lifetime, historians now view Van Buren as a key character in the development of the American presidency and government; the Miller Center at the University of Virginia details Van Buren’s life and presidency
Do they make Republicans so patriotic and thoughtful any more?
On the death of President George H. W. Bush, I think it’s good to revisit the evidence that, on the surface, a little deeper, and deep down, George Bush the elder was just a very decent, kind human being. We should celebrate his decency and kindness, and encourage it in others.
Most of this post is a repeat from just before the elections in 2016.
1992’s election was unnecessarily nasty, I thought. Incumbent George H. W. Bush had fallen from record approval ratings after Gulf War I, due to economic problems. GOP campaigning targeted Bill Clinton’s failings in personal life, and imaginary policies — much of what were real issues were ignored, I thought.
Transition was relatively smooth. GOP continued the tactic’s they’d adopted in 1977 against Jimmy Carter, constant harping on small issues, some refusal to cooperate.
George H. W. Bush
is was always gracious. In his last hours in office, he penned a personal letter to the man who had defeated him, Bill Clinton. He left the letter on the President’s Desk in the Oval Office, one of the first things Clinton would see after the ceremonies, and as the weight of his new job began dragging him into reality.
Bush’s grace, then, shines now as an example of a lost time, when despite deep divisions, Washington politicians understood the nation needed to run, and were willing to compromise to make the laws and appointments necessary to help America.
Bush wrote to Clinton:
You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting for you. Good Luck.
Are there any such Republicans left in the party? Does anyone make Republicans like that now?
We need that grace, and resolve to make America a better and happier place, back again. Send a thank-you letter to someone you know today.
The function of the President of the United States,
the President of the United States,
is to build a strong society here,
to maintain full employment,
to educate our children,
to provide security for our aged citizens,
to provide justice for our people,
to build an image of a society on the move,
so that people around the world who wonder what the future holds for them,
who wonder which road they should take, they decide,
“We want to go with the United States; they represent the future.”
As long as the United States lives, so freedom lives.
As long as we build our strength,
as long as we are on the move,
as long as we are a progressive society,
then the future belongs to us
and not to Mr. Khrushchev.
John F. Kennedy: “Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI,” October 26, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74225.