PLYMOUTH - In 200 years, the United States has had only one
President born on Independence Day -Calvin Coolidge.
That fact makes July 4 a more special day in Plymouth than in most
other Vermont communities. The event will be marked this year the
way it is most years: at noon, the Vermont National Guard will lead
a march to Plymouth Notch Cemetery, where a wreath from the White
House will be laid at the Coolidge gravesite, followed by a brief
Not many know why the White House sends a wreath every year.
Every deceased President receives a wreath honoring his birthday
each year. The custom began in 1967, when President Lyndon Johnson
traveled to the Hermitage in Tennessee to honor President Andrew
Jackson's 200th birthday.
The wreath itself is put together by a local florist according to a
specific formula from the White House.
Massachusetts florist Jim Clifford, who provides wreaths for the
ceremonies honoring Presidents John and John Quincy Adams, told the
Boston Globe what's entailed.
"The wreath is designed by one of our professional designers and we
follow an exact recipe that the White House sends us, and it is
specific in the number and color of flowers that we use. It's red
and white carnations and blue irises," Clifford said.
After the wreath ceremony in Plymouth, the nearby Wilder Restaurant
will hold a chicken barbecue. Visitors will be able to take wagon
rides, or watch Fiber Arts in Vermont demonstrate their skills in
weaving and spinning. Elisabeth von Trapp will sing at the Union
Christian Church at 2 p.m.
Naturally, the Coolidge site will be open. The new permanent
exhibit, "More than Two Words" provides an interactive look at
Coolidge's life and presidency, and there is also an exhibit on
Coolidge's fondness for fishing. (He was a member of the Meccawe
Club, a Bridgewater-based fishing society. More on the club can be
found in 2012 Summer Guide.)
History buffs may wish to know that, while Coolidge was the only
President born on the Fourth of July, three others died on the
Fourth, all of those were Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson and
John Adams died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the
50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, while James
Monroe followed five years later on July 4, 1831.
The Coolidge site is open daily through mid-October, from 9:30 a.m.
to 5 p.m. The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, which has its
offices at the site, can be found at www.calvin-coolidge.org.