New York National Guard Marks Birthday of President Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook This Morning

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Brig. Gen. John Andonie, Director of Joint Staff for the New York National Guard, salutes during the annual Martin Van Buren wreath presentation in Kinderhook Cemetery on Dec. 5, 2018.

KINDERHOOK, N.Y. (12/05/2019) (readMedia)-- Major General Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, will mark the 237th birthday of President Martin Van Buren by laying a wreath at Van Buren's grave site in Kinderhook, today, Thursday, Dec. 5.

National Park Service officials and Kinderhook local government officials will also be part of the annual event.

WHO: Major General Timothy LaBarge , a Color Guard from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing and New York Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Maureen Dooley

WHAT: Annual recognition of former President Martin Van Buren, a Columbia County native who died on July 24, 1862 in Kinderhook, N.Y. He was born on Dec. 5, 1782. LaBarge will lay the traditional wreath sent by the current president which is laid at the graves of past presidents by military representatives.

WHEN: 11 a. m Thursday, Dec. 5.

WHERE: Kinderhook Cemetery, County Route 21, Kinderhook New York.

Coverage Opportunities:

Images of the wreath laying ceremony, the military color guard, and troops in formation. There will be opportunities to interview ceremony participants.


The United States Military honors former presidents by laying wreaths presented by the current president at their gravesites on the anniversary of their birth. The New York Army and Air National Guard headquarters traditionally conduct the wreath presentations at the graves of President Chester A. Arthur in Menands, and President Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook. The New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls honors President Millard Fillmore.

Martin Van Buren:

Van Buren was the first president born as an American citizen rather than a subject of the British Empire. A historical marker on Kinderhook's Hudson Street indicates the site of the Van Buren family tavern, where the president-to-be was born in 1782. He's buried in the family plot at the Kinderhook Reformed Cemetery. Van Buren served in the White House from 1837 to 1841.

He is the only president not to have spoken English as his first language, having grown up speaking Dutch, and the first president from New York.

He ran for re-election in 1840 but was defeated by William Henry Harrison. He sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1844, but lost to James K. Polk.

In 1848 he was the unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Free-Soil Party, a group opposing an extension of slavery. That defeat marked the end of his political career.

Van Buren, known as Old Kinderhook because of his home town, gave the English language the term OK. During his run for office OK clubs were organized to support him. He also initialed papers with the letters OK to indicate he approved. The two letters became another way to say something was good if it was OK.

Van Buren also served as a New York State Senator, New York Attorney General, and a United States Senator from New York, Secretary of State and Vice President.

His home, Lindenwald, is a national historic site