New York National Guard Salutes President Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook on Saturday, Dec. 5

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Major General Timothy LaBarge ( right) and Command Chief Master Sgt. Maureen Dooley present the Presidential Wreath at the Martin Van Buren gravesite in 2019.

KINDERHOOK, NY (12/03/2020) (readMedia)-- New York Air National Guard Brigadier Michael Bank, Assistant Adjutant General for Air, will mark the 238th birthday of President Martin Van Buren by laying a wreath at Van Buren's grave site in Kinderhook on Saturday, Dec. 5.

The event is part of an annual ceremony recognizing the eighth president of the United States which includes the National Park Service, town and village officials and the Friends of Lindenwald, the group which supports the National Historic Site.

WHO: Brig. Gen. Michael Bank, 109th Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Trottier, and Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing.

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. Bank will present a wreath sent by President Donald J. Trump. Traditionally a wreath from the sitting president is laid at the graves of former presidents on their birthdays by military officers.

WHEN: 11 a. m Saturday, 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, supposedly 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