Pres­i­den­tial vis­its to our area

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION -

made a stop in the city on Septem­ber 20, 1877 for un­known rea­sons. Pres­i­dents Grover Cleve­land (twice) and Ben­jamin Har­ri­son (once) each vis­ited in the 1890s. Pres­i­dent #25, Wil­liam Mckin­ley opened Chicka­mauga Park on June 13, 1897.

Theodore “Teddy” Roo­sevelt was the most fre­quent pres­i­den­tial vis­i­tor. Dur­ing his seven-year stint in the White House, he made three trips to Chat­tanooga, and an­other shortly af­ter his sec­ond term ended. The first was in 1902, to speak to the Broth­er­hood of En­gi­neers and Fire­men. No doubt he used his “bully pul­pit.” (Note to young read­ers: Back then “bully” was a pos­i­tive word, mean­ing “grand” or “ex­cel­lent.”)

Woodrow Wil­son spoke to the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion con­ven­tion in Chat­tanooga in 1910, while he was pres­i­dent of Prince­ton Univer­sity. He made it to the White House in 1912. Dur­ing his sin­gle term as pres­i­dent, Wil­liam Howard Taft was in the city on Novem­ber 11, 1911. Just be­fore his in­au­gu­ra­tion, Pres­i­dent-elect War­ren G. Hard­ing vis­ited Chat­tanooga on Jan­uary 22, 1921.

Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt made three stops in the area. On Novem­ber 21, 1938, ac­com­pa­nied by his wife Eleanor, he vis­ited Chicka­mauga Dam while it was un­der con­struc­tion. Along with nu­mer­ous Wash­ing­ton dig­ni­taries, he re­turned for the ded­i­ca­tion of Chicka­mauga Dam on Septem­ber 2, 1940. Dur­ing World War II, he in­spected the Women’s Army Cen­ter in Fort Oglethorpe on April 17, 1943.

While in his first year as a Se­na­tor from Mas­sachusetts, John F. Kennedy spoke to the Down­town Ro­tary Club on De­cem­ber 10, 1953. He was a new­ly­wed, hav­ing mar­ried Jac­que­line Bou­vier just three months ear­lier. He would be elected pres­i­dent in 1960.

Lyn­don John­son made an air­port cam­paign stop dur­ing his suc­cess­ful 1964 cam­paign for a full term, on Oc­to­ber 24th of that year. His suc­ces­sor, Richard Nixon also made a cam­paign ap­pear­ance at Memo­rial Au­di­to­rium on Septem­ber 27, 1968, speak­ing to an over­flow crowd.

Although Jimmy Carter didn’t stop in dur­ing his sin­gle term in of­fice, he and his ex­tended fam­ily va­ca­tioned at the Chat­tanooga Choo Choo on Au­gust 23, 1991.

Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan’s visit to Chat­tanooga on May 19, 1987 was among the most mem­o­rable. The main event was at the UTC Arena. The first item on the agenda was lunch with some of the county’s top stu­dents. Most of his speech cen­tered on the theme of “Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion.”

The event was filled with pomp and cir­cum­stance, lit­er­ally, be­cause it served as the com­mence­ment ex­er­cise for three thou­sand high school se­niors.

Then-white House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Tom Griscom, a na­tive Chat­tanoogan, re­mem­bers how the trip was ar­ranged, and a fun fact about a lo­cal fast food fa­vorite.

Griscom said, “The White House was look­ing for a grad­u­a­tion event. It was a sur­prise to learn that my home­town was cho­sen. This was a few months af­ter Sen. Howard Baker had be­come chief of staff to Pres­i­dent Rea­gan. Sen. Baker, a long­time Krys­tal ham­burg­ers fan, felt it would be a great ad­di­tion to the trip to serve Krys­tals on Air Force One. The Krys­tal Com­pany set up grills in the hangar, ad­ja­cent to the pres­i­den­tial air­craft. As the ham­burg­ers were be­ing brought aboard Air Force One, the White House physi­cian ques­tioned whether they could be served to the Pres­i­dent since there had not been a food test. Sen. Baker quickly in­ter­ceded, and the burg­ers were served on the air­craft as it lifted off from Lovell Field for the re­turn trip to Wash­ing­ton.”

Since then, Ge­orge H. W. Bush (in 1992), his son Ge­orge W. Bush (2007), and Barack Obama have vis­ited Chat­tanooga while in of­fice, most re­cently Obama’s speech at Amazon on July 30, 2013.

From mil­i­tary ser­vice, va­ca­tion­ing, cam­paign­ing, to ded­i­cat­ing govern­ment fa­cil­i­ties, the Chat­tanooga area has proven to be a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for our com­man­ders-in-chief.

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news anchor and author, can be con­tacted by mail at 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405 or by email at

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.