By Sgt. 1st Class Alyn-Michael Macleod, 99th Regional Support Command Public AffairsMarch 23, 2011
PRINCETON, N.J., March 18, 2011 - An early spring day blessed President Grover Cleveland's 174th birthday which was commemorated with a special memorial service hosted by Maj. Gen. William D. Razz Waff, commanding general, 99th Regional Support Command, at the former president's grave site in Princeton Cemetery.
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 Robert Maguire, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for New Jersey; Chad Goerner, mayor of Princeton Township; Councilman Kevin Wilkes, representing Mildred Trotman, mayor of Princeton Borough; Chief Master Sgt. Warren Wofford, 87th Air Base Wing command chief; and Col. Patrick Slowey, Army Support Activity - Dix commander.
The first democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland had a rapid rise to the presidency.
"His rise in politics can only be said to be meteoric ... In 1881, elected mayor of Buffalo; in 1882, governor of New York; and two years later, president of the United States," Waff explained. "No one else has had such a rapid rise in politics from the local to national level with such speed."
Cleveland become known as the 'Guardian President' because of his popularity.
"He was a good listener while he himself was a spare talker who kept his comments and speeches brief." Goerner said. "His ability to win the popular vote three consecutive times is second only to Franklin Roosevelt."
Goerner went on and talked about how the Cleveland presidency had to endure some of the same
economic issues that Americans are facing today.
"His second term was plagued by a deep economic crisis; public confidence was so fragile during this time that in his second term he was at continual odds with Congress," he said.
As Cleveland's administration was working on regaining the public confidence, he was diagnosed with a terrible disease.
"During his second term, he was diagnosed with cancer, cancer of the jaw; he feared that if the public found out about his cancer that markets would plunge and Congress would only become further separated from him in ideology and no progress would be made," Goerner said.
"As a result, he decided to have surgery on his jaw on a yacht. Five physicians attended to him removing a significant piece of his upper jaw while on this yacht. It left him disfigured, which required a second surgery. The second surgery they implanted a plastic prosthesis to reconstruct his face; during this time, the public, the press and the Congress did not know," explained Goerner.
Even as time goes on and technology changes, Cleveland's life legacy still remains in a very unlikely place.
"The small element of his life legacy that still lingers today in our....candy store culture," Wilkes explained. "It is the candy bar the Baby Ruth named after his dear daughter who died at the age of 13."
"It was a national heartbreak shared across the county. This candy bar was named after her and til this day, it survives," concluded Wilkes.