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NEWS | July 20, 2022

Army Reserve helps honor former president

By Zachary Mott 88th Readiness Division

Between rainstorms, more than 20 people gathered inside the tomb of former President Warren G. Harding to honor the 29th president of the United States here, July 16, 2022, during a wreath-laying ceremony.

The white marble tomb stands as a tribute to the Hardings as both Warren and his wife Florence are buried there. It was paid for entirely through donations both locally and across the world. The Harding family moved to Marion in the 1880s and began setting down roots. The Hardings made Marion their home, buying and running the local newspaper, the Marion Star, and turning it into a successful platform from which Harding launched his political career. They planned to return there to their post-public service days.

“They came home to a place they’d never been before,” said Dr. Richard K. Harding, grandnephew of the former president about when they first arrived in Marion in 1820. “It was where they belonged. The Hardings loved Marion and Marion loved the Hardings. They got along and they felt they had the same principles.”

Following stints as a state representative, lieutenant governor and senator, Harding rose to the highest office in the land in 1920, earning the presidential nomination by garnering 60.2 percent of the popular vote. As his political stature continued to grow, Harding’s affection toward this Ohio town never wavered.

“He continually made his love of Marion, and its way of life, known to everyone,” said Brig. Gen. John M. Dreska, commanding general, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and representing current President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., during the ceremony.

As the first elected president following World War I, Harding inherited a large Veteran population in need of immediate care. He and his wife Florence sought to address those needs through the creation of the Veterans Bureau, the precursor to today’s Veterans Administration.

“President Harding emphasized service to country, not service to self,” Dreska said in his address. “With the help of his wife Florence, Harding formed the Veterans Bureau that consolidated the medical care of World War I veterans. When Harding took office in 1921, more than 300,000 Veterans were being treating in hospitals and more than 70,000 suffered from long-term illness and injury from The Great War.”

Each year, the city of Marion celebrates its president. Ensuring the legacy of the 29th president is not forgotten.