Happy Presidents Day

This Presidents Day reminds me of my fascination as a child with American history and the men who served as our nation’s leaders.

When I was about 12 years old, I took it upon myself one summer to memorize the Presidents in order, from Washington to Reagan (at that time). My grandmother had a set of World Book Encyclopedias in the attic from the time my father and his brothers were kids. She also had a set of World Book Yearbooks that chronicled the events of every year since 1962. The 1962 edition had a section devoted to the Presidents, with facts, biographies, and pictures. I poured through that book, memorizing the Presidents. I even traced their pictures on sheets of notebook paper.

My grandmother and I would sit on her front porch in her swing as I recited the Presidents to her–in order, Washington to Reagan–as she looked in the book and checked my accuracy. And as best I remember, I was right more times than I wasn’t. And I can still recite them today, with a few selective omissions.

Almost 30 years later, that same book–along with the entire Encyclopedia set– now sits on my office bookshelf. Its spine is split from top to bottom, the back cover barely clinging to it. But I can open it and flip through its pages and remember that summer with Grandma.

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