MENANDS, New York – New York Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Michel Natali marked the 191st birthday of President Chester Arthur, the 21st president, during a ceremony at his grave at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York on Monday, October 5, 2020.Natali, the assistant adjutant general, Army for the New York National Guard was joined by State Command Sgt. Major David Piwowarski in laying a wreath at Arthur’s memorial during the short ceremony.Each year former presidents are honored on their birthday with the presentation of a wreath from the current president at their gravesite by military leaders.The New York National Guard recognizes Arthur, who died at age 57 in 1886; as well as Martin Van Buren, whose grave is in Kinderhook, N.Y.; and Millard Fillmore, who is buried in Buffalo.The ceremony featured remarks by Natali as well as cemetery officials and concluded with the laying of the wreath.New York Army National Guard Soldiers provided a color guard and honor cordon for the event, as well as a bugler who played taps during the ceremony.“I am honored that members of the New York Army National Guard are able to take part in this commemoration,” Natali said.“To us in the New York National Guard, this ceremony not only recognizes President Arthur’s legacy a the nation’s 21st commander in chief, but also reminds us of his origins in the Albany area and of his military career in what was then known as the New York State Militia.”A skilled lawyer, Arthur served as the Judge Advocate General of the New York National Guard, then known as the New York State Militia. In this capacity he drafted a military law which restructured the organization.At the start of the Civil War, Arthur was also given the job of surveying the New York City harbor fortifications, originally designed and built by Robert E. Lee, to determine what needed to be done to put them in shape defend the city.Most importantly, during the Civil War Arthur served as the Quartermaster General, responsible for organizing and equipping 70 New York Volunteer Regiments, totaling about 70,000 Soldiers, during his two years on the job.Chester Arthur came into office in 1881 when President James Garfield died on Sept. 19, 1881 after being shot by a gunman in July 1881.He left office in March 1885 and is credited with turning the U.S. Navy into a modern force by backing the construction of more modern steel warships and creating the U.S. Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island.Arthur also approved the first federal Civil Service law, even though he himself had taken advantage of party patronage to land an important job at the New York City Customs House and he had been associated with the faction of the Republican Party against the reforms.Arthur was raised in Washington County, New York and attended Union College in Schenectady. He taught school in the area and then became a lawyer in New York City.In 1855, as a 24 year old Lawyer Chester Arthur represented a Black woman named Elizabeth Jennings who had been booted off a whites only horse car in New York City while on her way to her job as a church organist on July 16, 1854. She sued the transit company and Arthur represented her in court.In February of 1855, she was awarded $225 in damages.More importantly, the New York State Supreme Court, Brooklyn Circuit ruled that African Americans could not be excluded from the city’s transit system.In the second year of his presidency Arthur was diagnosed with Bright’s Disease, a fatal kidney condition. One of the symptoms was excessive fatigue.In addition his wife had died in 1880 and, according to biographers, he missed her greatly.For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter