Monday, February 15, 2010

Honoring President's Day

What do George Clooney, Steven Tyler, that other fat guy and eggplant parmesan have in common?

They were all… Presidents?

As some of you may know, throughout On the Leesh’s year-long project, “What You Can Do” we’ve been trying to acknowledge our national holidays. After looking at the calendar some weeks ago, Jess, Alicia and I saw the upcoming, President’s Day Holiday looming on the calendar. We all looked at each other and said, ‘What can we do for President’s Day that relates to “What You Can Do”?’

“What You Can Do” is an active project – a series that offers active solutions as to what a person can do about the issue of their choice. What exactly can one do that’s active on a holiday that honors previous US Presidents? Does that even qualify as a “What You Can Do”? This was debated at length. Then, after some heated discussions, one of us (I can’t remember who) said, “Can you guys name all 44 Presidents in order – or at all?”

For a moment, only the hum of our computers could be heard, then, quietly, not looking each other in the eye, we all said, “No.”


That felt… well… embarrassing. There we had it. Our active solution: the “What You Can Do” President’s Pop Poll!

In a ‘couldn’t be any less scientific poll’ we asked some On the Leesh friends and family to answer these two questions:

1. Can you name the first 10 Presidents (in order OR at all)

2. How many Presidents total can you name (again, we asked if they could do it in order)

The results were (drum roll please…)!

1 Person!

Yes. Out of about 30 people, only 1 person could name all of the 44 Presidents of the United States. Next best was 39 (and he’s our website guy… we now feel smarter just by association).

Everyone got Washington. In fact, many got the first three: Washington, Adams and Jefferson. On the other end of the spectrum, Obama, Bush 1 and 2 and Clinton were often named, but there weren’t many Fillmores, Taylors or Tylers. The middle was described as a blur or simply with a “?”. Some other people summoned memories of High School names to jog their brain. One person got many of the President’s last names by associating them with celebrities: Steven Tyler, Dolly Madison and Harrison Ford to name a few. We also had someone thank HBO for their mini-series on Adams (it’s good to know today’s entertainment can also be educational). Yet another was thinking of who was on what bill of money. I guess we all have methods…

With this united front of failure, I think everyone would have ended the quiz the same way as one of my friends who wrote, “My shame and I are signing off now.”

So, if you’re at all like us, have a look at the full list written below. We should all learn it and commit it to memory. What You Can Do in one minute this President’s Day? Make a pact with me to learn all of our President’s names. It’s our history and it’s our present.

Oh, and maybe these fun little facts might help you remember as well (courtesy of

Harry Truman was a haberdasher before he became our 33rd President.

James Polk was the first President to have his photograph taken.

Abraham Lincoln, measuring in at 6 feet, 4 inches, has been our tallest US President

The first President to have a stepmother? That would be Millard Fillmore (our 13th President)

And as promised, here is the full list:

1. George Washington

2. John Adams

3. Thomas Jefferson

4. James Madison

5. Jame Monroe

6. John Quincy Adams

7. Andrew Jackson

8. Martin Van Buren

9. William Henry Harrison

10. John Tyler

11. James K. Polk

12. Zachary Taylor

13. Millard Fillmore

14. Franklin Pierce

15. James Buchanan

16. Abraham Lincoln

17. Andrew Johnson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

20. James Garfield

21. Chester A. Arthur

22. Grover Cleveland

23. Benjamin Harrison

24. Grover Cleveland

25. William McKinley

26. Theordore Roosevelt

27. William Howard Taft

28. Woodrow Wilson

29. Warren G. Harding

30. Calvin Coolidge

31. Herbert Hoover

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

33. Harry S. Truman

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

35. John F. Kennedy

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

37. Richard M. Nixon

38. Gerald R. Ford

39. James Carter

40. Ronald Reagan

41. George H.W. Bush

42. William J. Clinton

43. George W. Bush

44. Barack Obama

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