Today is Presidents Day. For someone whose obesession with presidents reached an almost unhealthy level when I was younger, it is hard to believe that I have never written this type of blog post before. So, even though I can no longer recite all the United States Presidents in order while giving you obscure information on each one, I still have my favorites. In tonight’s blog post, I will countdown my top ten favorite commander-in-chiefs.
10. Grover Cleveland – It always intrigued me that on my presidents poster that hung above my bed was a portrait that appeared twice. Grover Cleveland is the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms. This distinction made him special to me and is the best explanation on why he cracks my list.
9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – The only four term president, it is hard to overstate the good that FDR did for this country. By ushering America out of the Great Depression and leading it to victory in World War II, he goes down as perhaps the best president in history as well as one of my favorites.
8. Dwight Eisenhower – I always loved the look of a modern day decorated general going from the battlefield to the Oval Office. Dwight Eisenhower just fit the bill of what it meant to look presidential. The guy experienced the horrors and triumphs of both world wars, thus giving him a pretty extensive worldview when he took office.
7. John F. Kennedy – Growing up, I always felt sadness and asked “what if…?” when I would pass his pages in my presidents books. Through my eyes as a kid, he seemed to look 50 years younger than all the other leaders. As I grew older, I still asked “what if…?” as I became more fascinated with both his political career and family life. He had so much potential.
6. Abraham Lincoln – For me as a youngster, Abraham Lincoln was extremely interesting. He was on money, he was the tallest president, and he was assassinated! Of course as I evolved from just knowing interesting facts to knowing the impact the presidents had on our country, my respect for Lincoln grew even more. Perhaps no president governed in such hard times as President Lincoln.
5. John Adams – The David McCullough book on the life of John Adams is a must read. It took me on an extraordinary ride through the times and career of our second president. Adams served our country both at home and abroad and his contributions helped shape this country. The relationship between him and Thomas Jefferson was one for the ages, as well as his beautiful marriage to his wife, Abigail.
4. Theodore Roosevelt – When it comes to personality, I don’t think any president (including President Trump) can match that of Theodore Roosevelt. When I watched the documentary done on the Roosevelts a couple years ago, Teddy was rightfully portrayed as a complete badass. Forget that he went to Harvard, served in the army, and became president….I was fascinated by the safaris he went on that brought him face-to-face with some of the world’s most dangerous animals. In fact, on one of these safaris he was pretty much left for dead. I also like Teddy because when I was little my dad would take me to Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington, and lead me to an area where Roosevelt once gave a speech. To know that a president at that time in history made it that far our west proved pretty cool to me.
3. Thomas Jefferson – Although this man had his flaws, he did write the Declaration of Independence, the greatest document ever authored in this country. He also goes down as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, serving young America for two terms. But what drew me to Jefferson was his flamboyancy. Although he was a great writer, politician, and ambassador, he was also really into art. The man loved nice things but was extremely well-educated on what was “nice.” He was good looking and smart, a man who would absolutely take over a room when he entered. Having the distinction of appearing on the $2 bill, Jefferson is one of my favorites.
2. Ronald Reagan – The first actual adult biography on a president I ever read was about Ronald Reagan. The man had a very colorful life and encountered his fair share of disappointments. He served his country, thrived in Hollywood, governed over the largest western state, survived an assassination attempt, and did so much good during his two terms in office. Just like John and Abigail Adams, his marriage to Nancy was another example of true love and selflessness. There is no wonder why even Democrats genuinely respect the guy.
1. George Washington – It all starts with him. Remember above how I said I liked the story of a modern day general succeeding on the battlefield and succeeding in the highest office? Well, George Washington might not be modern but his heroic story is the epitome of the American spirit. Ask yourself this: what would our country be like without Washington? Kind of a scary question, right? In fifth grade at lunch, my teacher put in a movie about George Washington’s life. The film was extremely long because I think it took us about half the school year to finish it. But it was awesome. Washington paved the way for this great country and it is fitting that Presidents Day is celebrated right around his birthday.
Happy Presidents Day, everyone. Don’t Blink.