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NEWS | March 22, 2022

Army Reserve division celebrates past-president’s 185th birthday

By Sgt. 1st Class Deziree Lau 99th Readiness Division

“On behalf of President Joe Biden, president of the United States and Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve, I welcome you and thank you all for being part of today’s wreath-laying ceremony,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney Faulk, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, to community and military members gathered to honor past-President Grover Cleveland on what would’ve been his 185th birthday.

“The military presence here shows a sign of utmost respect for President Cleveland,” said Princeton Mayor Mark Freda. “I thank you, Armed Forces, and I thank you, community members, for being here in Princeton.”

“It’s an honor to be here with you all today celebrating and commemorating the 22nd and 24th president of the United States on his birthday,” shared Mark Texel, assistant director of the New Jersey State Park Service and administrator of the New Jersey State Office for Historical Sites.

This annual wreath-laying ceremony has been hosted by the 99th RD on Cleveland’s birthday for over a decade at his final resting place in Princeton Cemetery. Wreath-laying ceremonies are part of the Presidential Wreath Laying Program administered by the White House Military Office, which is responsible for coordinating the annual placement of presidential wreaths at the final resting places of former presidents, famous Americans and certain memorials of historical significance. The ritual of wreath-laying symbolizes the beauty and brevity of life.

“President Cleveland’s life can truly be summed up as one of service – service to his country, his community, and his family,” said Faulk. Cleveland’s legacy of service began in 1850 as a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind and continued in positions throughout New York that earned him a reputation for his dedication and service to others, such as assistant district attorney, sheriff of Erie County, mayor of Buffalo, governor of New York state, and finally the nation’s highest elected office, the presidency of the United States.

Throughout his eight years in the office of the chief executive, Cleveland embraced the notion of service to the nation in every decision he made and every challenge he overcame, in much the same way Soldiers embody the Army Value of selfless service.

“The Army’s definition of selfless service is, ‘Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own,’” Faulk shared. “President Cleveland certainly lived the value of selfless service during his 71 years, putting the welfare of the nation and its citizens before his own during a life that started and ended right here in the Garden State.

“As a Soldier and U.S. citizen, I am proud and honored to have this opportunity to be here today to commemorate the life and achievements of President Grover Cleveland,” Faulk added.