President Obama will present the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to several honorees at a White House ceremony today. The recipients include astronaut John Glenn, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Gordon Low, and author Toni Morrison. They, along with nine others, are being recognized for their "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
On this Memorial Day, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will meet with Gold Star families (families who have lost service members in war) at Arlington Cemetery and later with veterans and their families at the Vietnam Memorial.
Many of us know from our school history lessons about the military leadership that more or less assured the election of some men as presidents, such as George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. But, on this Memorial Day, I want to touch on some of the wartime battles and heroic actions of some men who became president whose stories may be less well known. RUTHERFORD HAYES, 19th U. S. President: He fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, was wounded several times and had his horse shot out from under him. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 26th U.S. President: He fought in the Spanish-American War and led a vastly outnumbered cavalry regiment on a charge up a hill where he had to kill the enemy with his own hand in order to survive. JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35th U.S.President: He was a Naval officer during World War II and commanded a PT-boat. It was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and Kennedy swam for 4 hours towing a crew member by a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal and received a Purple Heart. His exploits were chronicled in a book by Robert J. Donovan PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II. LYNDON JOHNSON, 36th U.S.President: Johnson was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II and survived an attack on his plane by the Japanese while on a mission over New Guinea. He was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry. GEORGE H.W.BUSH 41st U.S.President: Bush was a Naval aviator in World War II and during a bombing mission his plan was struck by antiaircraft fire and he and his crew were forced to bail out. Two crew members were killed and Bush hit his head and was stung by a Portuguese man-of-war but still managed to hand paddle the life raft for 3 hours before being rescued. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
It will be possible this weekend for those visiting Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington outside the nation's capital, to travel back in time at least as far as taking in 18th century music, dancing, games and demonstrations of the 18th century chocolate making process. Visitors will also be able to enjoy wine and desserts as the sun sets over the Potomac. For more information and to purchase tickets follow this link Sunset Celebration/Mount Vernon.
First Lady Michelle Obama will promote her new book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across the Country with a book tour that includes several television appearances next Tuesday morning: Good Morning America and The View (both on the ABC network). Tuesday evening she will make her second appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the following day will talk with Kelly Ripka on Live with Kelly. All proceeds from the book will go to the National Park Foundation.
In addition to the book and its recipes, other topics the Fist Lady will likely discuss include the history of the White House Garden and healthy eating.
In this video First Lady Michelle Obama discusses her new book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.
The book is due to be released next week and Mrs. Obama will go on tour to promote the book. The proceeds from the book will go the National Park Foundation. (An earlier blog post featured a video of the First Lady and White House gardeners in the process of creating the White House Kitchen Garden.
At the beginning of May readership of My Year with the First Ladies was 5,000 and within three weeks has increased to over 6,000. I am beginning to think that a goal of 10,000 followers by the blog's second anniversary in July may not be unrealistic. The largest contingent of the blog's fans are in the United States but I am hearing from people all around the world. According to Facebook stats the blog is generating a sustaining number of followers in the following countries (listed here in descending order): India, Indonesia, Turkey, Algeria, Mexico, Canada, France, United Arab Emirates, Honduras, Libya, United Kingdom, Kenya, Argentina, Italy, Jamaica, Australia, Spain, Bolivia and Ireland.
Thank you all for spreading the word and I hope you keep reading and providing feedback. D.Brand