Ah, Presidents’ Day. Although some people believe that the holiday was created to sell television sets or electric guitars and others believe that it was an efficient combining of the birthdays of our 1st and 16th presidents, February 22nd and February 14th, I was brought up differently.
I attended elementary school in Virginia, where the date was a reminder of the fertility of the Old Dominion State for the production of presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. I attended high school in Massachusetts, where the Bay State’s contributions to the presidency, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and John Kennedy, were recognized on that date. (I’ll note that Calvin Coolidge was born in Vermont but grew up in Massachusetts and George H. W. Bush was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Connecticut…until he more famously became a Texas oilman.)
I always had favorite presidents, and for specific reasons or perceived qualities of character. When I was younger, it was George Washington, who couldn’t tell a lie, and Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, and Teddy Roosevelt, who started the national parks. As I got older, I got a little more sophisticated, or at least I felt more so, and admired Franklin Roosevelt, for bringing us together during the depression and war, Harry Truman, for taking over in the middle of a challenge and wrapping things up, and Lyndon Johnson, for twisting the necessary arms to achieve passage of the civil rights legislation.
So, in a sort of Tracyesque post, I’m interested in hearing other people’s favorite presidents, or perhaps more specifically, the traits or actions for which you admire them. It seems like an appropriate, and timely, way to celebrate Presidents’ Day.