By Staff Sgt. Alyn-Michae MacLeodMarch 19, 2010
PRINCETON, N.J. (March 18, 2010) - Grover Cleveland's 173rd birthday was commemorated with a special memorial service hosted by Maj. Gen. William Monk III, commanding general, 99th Regional Support Command at the former president's grave site in Princeton Cemetery today.
The memorial service is part of the Presidential Wreath Laying Ceremony program from the White House Military Office. The White House Military Office is responsible for coordinating the annual placement of Presidential Wreaths at tombs and resting places of former presidents, other famous Americans and at certain memorials of historical significance.
Special guests included Mildred T. Trotman, mayor of Princeton Borough; Bernard P. Miller, mayor of Princeton Township and Col. Gina Grosso, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst commander.
The first democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was a president of many firsts throughout the country and in the White House.
"Cleveland ... earned the reputation as a hard-working lawyer presenting his arguments from memory, a practice he continued as president when he delivered his inaugural address without notes, something no president had ever done before," said Monk.
Cleveland will be remembered for protecting the power and autonomy of the executive branch, his recorded-breaking use of the presidential veto earning him the deserving moniker of the "Guardian President," explained Monk.
One of Cleveland's unique firsts would be his marriage in the White House and his wife's prediction of the president's return.
"In 1886 at the age of 49, he became the only president to marry in the White House when he married 21-year-old Frances Folsom, the daughter of a good friend and Frances Folsom is buried here with President Cleveland," explained Miller.
"When Grover Cleveland lost the presidential election of 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, his wife Francis was heard to tell the White House staff not to rearrange the furniture as they expected to be back in the White House in four years, and she was right," Miller said laughingly.
Even through President Cleveland touched the lives of many, his passing was felt hard at his home in Princeton where his house still stands today.
"Upon completion of his second term, he had returned to a home that he had built in Princeton Borough ... here he served on the board of trustees at Princeton University and worked on his book, 'Presidential Problems', and gave public lectures," concluded Miller.
"I speak on behalf of the entire Princeton community when I say we are both honored and proud to have had the president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, as a resident in our town during the last years of his life" said Trotman.
"On his deathbed he happily summed up his life with his final words: 'I have tried so hard to do right'" concluded Monk.