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NEWS | March 26, 2024

Army Reserve remembers past president’s birthday

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division hosted a wreath-laying ceremony for President Grover Cleveland on March 18 at his gravesite here in Princeton Cemetery.

Serving as the event’s official party were Princeton Mayor Mark Freda, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (Emeritus) Robert J. Maguire of New Jersey, and Maj. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, 99th RD commanding general.

“As an Army Reserve Soldier and U.S. citizen, I am truly humbled and honored to have this opportunity to commemorate the life and achievements of President Grover Cleveland,” Belanger said.

The event celebrated the 187th birthday of the only person to have served two non-consecutive presidential terms, first from 1884 to 1888 and again from 1892 to 1896. Following his second term, Cleveland spent 11 years as a Princeton resident until his death in 1908.

“The city of Princeton where he chose to retire after his presidency, and its named university to which he was so endeared as a trustee, embodies the spirit of such an individual who tried so hard to do what was right in service to the nation to the very end,” Belanger said.

“President Cleveland died on June 24, 1908, only two months after the birth of one of our nation’s key institutions – the United States Army Reserve,” Belanger explained. “The Army Reserve has grown exponentially over the past 116 years, becoming an indispensable part of the nation’s Total Force.”

The Presidential Wreath Laying Program is administered by the White House Military Office, which is responsible for coordinating the annual placement of presidential wreaths at the tombs and resting places of former presidents, other famous Americans and at certain memorials of historical significance.

Prior to August 1966, there was no particular pattern to the list that was maintained, and examination of the files reveal that the occasions were built up over the years upon the request of various private and public organizations that were interested in particular dates.

The repeated placement of a number of these wreaths through the years led to the development of the "President's Approved Wreath List" approved by President Johnson, Aug. 11, 1966, and further expanded with the passing of additional former presidents.