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A bit of presidential trivia to mull over
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This was a moment to be shared.
My son, Josh, was home from school sick this past week, but I still thought it to be important that we view take that opportunity to watch together Barack Obama take the oath of office as our 44th President last Tuesday.
For this was a special time in history, witnessing the first African American take the highest office in the land. At the same time the moment sent out a message of hope that someday we’ll see a person elected president without the mention of ethnicity or even gender but rather contents of character.
Josh is aware of my interest in history, particularly when it comes to the presidents of the past. Not too long ago he quizzed me on the previous ones to occupy the White House.
First off, George Washington didn’t live on Pennsylvania Avenue. He was sworn in as our first president in New York City at what’s now known as Washington Square.
The easiest way for me to remember the presidents is to come out of the chute with the Founding Fathers – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe.
Andrew Jackson is No. 7, preceding John Quincy Adams, who, next to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, was one of two father-son combination to serve as Commander in Chief.
Jackson was an old warrior and the hero of New Orleans. His period in the White House was named after him.
Henry Harrison was the oldest person next to Ronald Reagan elected into office. He was also the first president to die in office after giving the longest inaugural speech lasting more than two hours. Poor Harrison literally caught his death on that dreadful cold day. His presidency lasted just a month.
Fortunately, his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, had a longer tenure in the Oval Office, with his one term sandwiched in the middle of Grover Cleveland’s two stints in office. Cleveland was the only president to serve non-consecutive terms.
Thanks to pop culture, I know that Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore were respectively No. 8 and No. 13. Van Buren, for instance, was mentioned in a Seinfeld episode. Kramer, comforted by the Van Buren Gang at a pizza parlor, accidentally flashed the secret sign “eight” in reference to the eighth president.
I usually have difficulty trying to remember those who came before and slightly after Abraham Lincoln. Included here are the likes of John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan.
I also have some problems recalling the succession of Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Chester Arthur.
And once I get past those sandwiched between the two Roosevelts, Teddy and FDR, I know it’s usually clear sailing from that point.
As for my fascination to the presidency, I’m guessing the aftermath of the JFK assassination along with Watergate and Nixon may have contributed to this interest.