Hall of Presidents / Presidents’ Day

Hall of Presidents

From the time of my first visit when I was 12 years old, one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has been the Hall of Presidents. It is always impressive to see a history presentation on big movie screens, followed by the screens raising to reveal all of the Presidents of the United States of America there on the stage.

The show has gone through some changes over the years. But the current version does a superb job of portraying the presidents as ordinary men who were selected by their country to perform an often extraordinary job. A very effective presentation, I believe.

Here is a view of just some of the presidents on the stage at the finale. How many can you name?

Click for a larger view
Photo location: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida
Presidents’ Day
The third Monday in February in the United States is celebrated as Presidents’ Day, a day to honor and remember those who have led our country in its highest office. Actually, the federal holiday was created to honor our first president, George Washington, who was born on February 22; therefore, the third Monday in February would always fall near his birthday. And everyone seems to like a three-day weekend better than celebrating something on its actual day.
But Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also close at hand, as he was born on February 12. And it does seem to be a good time to remember the others who have served as well as just one or two prominent presidents.
While not always keeping up with current politics, I have always enjoyed learning about the presidents. It is fascinating to hear about what they faced and the decisions that they made, as well as the long term results of those decisions. And the history of the presidents goes right along with the history of our country, which has always interested me as well.
I like to read nice, thick books on the presidents, books loaded with lots of detail. If a book is over 500 pages, then that’s a good start. And my favorite subjects to read about are Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. These men of exceptional character are interesting enough that compelling books about their lives and their work are still being written today, because there is still much to discover about them.
I recently read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which offers a great view at the thought Lincoln gave to selecting his cabinet to be composed of the best men for the job, not necessarily those who always agreed with him.
Currently, I am reading The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley, about Roosevelt’s forward-thinking policies on conservation, which have helped to save many of our natural resources so that they still survive today. It is one of those books that I can’t wait to finish, but I will be a bit sad when it is over.
But then waiting in the wings is Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. This is the third book in a three-book series on Roosevelt (the first two being The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex), and this recently released volume looks in depth at his life after his term as president, a period that Brinkley’s book only focuses on for a brief time.
So today, whether you are off work or working hard, take a few minutes to remember those who have guided our country. Having been ordinary men just like us, they may not have always made the best decisions, but they have still all helped to make our country great.

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