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Fun Facts about the When I'm the President images

Delve deeper into US Political History

By Samantha Pillay

Fun Facts about the When I'm the President images

United States Secret Service (page 5)

The United States Secret Service is one of the country’s oldest federal investigative agencies, originally founded in 1865 to combat an epidemic of forged currency in the USA. Since then, their roles have expanded to include the protection of past and present presidents and vice presidents. Approximately 3200 special agents and an additional 1,300 uniformed officers guard the White House, the Treasury building and foreign diplomatic missions in Washington, as well as non-political events such as the NFL Super Bowl. Today, 27% of Secret Service employees are women after officers Laurie Anderson, Sue Ann Baker, Kathryn Clark, Holly Hufschmidt, and Phyllis Shantz were the first female officers sworn in on December 15th, 1971.

The American Flag (pages 6,10)

The American flag has undergone 27 different iterations.

The original flag in 1777 had 13 stars and 13 stripes to represent the original colonies.

Now, it has 50 stars and 13 stripes for the states and the original colonies.

The red, white, and blue were carefully chosen. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white represents purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

The current flag’s design wasn’t by a professional. It was submitted by 17-year-old high school student Robert G. Heft in a contest in 1958. President Dwight Eisenhower chose his design out of over 1,500 submissions.

The current flag has been in use for over 50 years.

If an American flag is damaged beyond repair, it can be disposed of with dignity. Many municipalities conduct flag burnings on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.

Contrary to popular belief, if the flag touches the ground, it doesn’t need to be burned. If soiled, it can be washed and dry cleaned and continue to be used.

The Presidential flag (page 6, 10)

The U.S. presidential flag features the presidential seal.

The seal depicts a star-encircled eagle holding a set of arrows and an olive branch.

Directly above the eagle, you’ll find the Latin phrase “e Pluribus Unum”, which translates to “out of many, one.”

The U.S. presidential flag has evolved over time, but its roots can be traced back to the 1800s.

Who was Abraham Lincoln? (Page 8)

Abraham Lincoln was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.

The Abraham Lincoln statue is in the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

It’s interesting to note that the statue’s hand gestures hold symbolic meaning. Lincoln’s left hand forms the letter “A” in American Sign Language, representing the initial letter of his name. His right hand rests on the armrest, signifying his role as a peacemaker during the Civil War.

His legacy endures as a symbol of courage, leadership, and the fight for justice and equality in American history.

Pens for the President signing a bill (page 10)

The pens used by the President of the United States during bill signings hold both tradition and symbolism. These pens have become part of history, are often gifted to individuals involved in the bill's creation, and reflect the President’s style and decisions.

The Oval Office (page 10, 11, 30 and 31)

The Oval Office has a rich history and unique design, serving as the epicenter of American leadership and decision-making.

Surprisingly, there was no designated office area specifically for the President for the first hundred years of White House history.

President William Howard Taft ordered the first version of the Oval Office in 1909.

The room was constructed from what used to be the secretary’s office, and since part of it was already round, it was turned into an oval shape.

Oval rooms were popular in early American democracy. Even George Washington had oval-shaped rooms in his home in Philadelphia, allegedly allowing guests to mingle easily.

The current Oval Office measures 35 feet long and 29 feet wide, providing space for both work and meetings.

Each incoming President decorates the Oval Office to suit their personal tastes, making it uniquely theirs.

One permanent fixture is the Presidential Seal on the ceiling, while the fireplace across from the President’s desk serves as a meeting spot for foreign leaders.

What is the significance of the Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony? (Page 11)

The Portrait Monument of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, is located in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a reminder of the women’s suffrage movement. Originally, the monument was designed by Adelaide Johnson to include the entire bodies of the suffragists. However, due to budget constraints, only the heads were completed, hidden away for years in the Capitol Crypt until 1921, when they were finally unveiled and placed on a pedestal. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) was President of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1865 to 1893, and she authored the women’s bill of rights, which she eloquently presented at the Seneca Falls, New York convention in 1848.

Who was Ruth Baden Ginsberg? (Page 11)

Fondly known as RBG, she is an iconic American law figure and a women’s rights trailblazer. She fought tirelessly for gender equality and women’s rights as a lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the United States Supreme Court, becoming the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

An intriguing facet of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personality was her unexpected talent for physical fitness. Despite her petite stature and serious demeanor on the bench, RBG was a dedicated fitness enthusiast who maintained a rigorous workout routine well into her later years. Fondly dubbed the “Notorious RBG,” she became known for her planks, push-ups, and other exercises, which she diligently performed with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson. Her commitment to fitness kept her physically strong and served as a testament to her resilience and determination, inspiring admirers worldwide to stay active and pursue their goals with vigor.

The Statue of Liberty (page 13)

Located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the statue commemorates the friendship between the United States and France that began during the American Revolution.

The real name of the Statue of Liberty is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” However, she is more commonly known as Lady Liberty. French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue. Interestingly, he initially pitched a similar structure to another country, but the deal fell through.

The statue was presented to the United States to commemorate the centennial of independence and celebrate the friendship between the U.S. and France during the Revolutionary War.

While the Statue of Liberty may appear still from afar, her right foot is mid-stride, symbolizing progress and leading the way toward freedom.

She stands 151 feet tall, but when you include the pedestal (which is 154 feet tall), the tip of her torch reaches an impressive 305 feet from the ground.

The statue’s pedestal needed funding, and fundraising efforts were largely unsuccessful. Thanks to Joseph Pulitzer, a fundraising campaign successfully collected the last $100,000 needed.

Over 160,000 donors, including people in business, politicians, street cleaners, and even children, contributed to complete the pedestal’s cost.

The statue comprises 250,000 lbs. of steel and 62,000 lbs. of copper.

The concrete pedestal weighs a whopping 54 million lbs. in total.

The iconic green patina on the Statue of Liberty protects her copper exterior from the harsh environment. She hasn’t been properly washed in over 130 years!

Lady Liberty can sway up to three inches in either direction in high winds, while her torch can sway up to five inches.

This enduring symbol of freedom has stood tall for over 145 years, welcoming countless people to her shores.

Commencement Day Celebrations (page 14, 15)

Commencement is a tradition that dates back to September 1642 at Harvard University, when just nine seniors graduated.

It marks the culmination of years of hard work and learning, symbolizing the transition from academia to the real world.

Commencement week follows senior week (after finals) and is filled with special events.

The main Commencement ceremony typically takes place on the fourth Thursday of May.

The graduation cap, the mortarboard, and the academic gown (often called a toga) are iconic clothing for graduating students.

Interestingly, these outfits have evolved over time. In the Middle Ages, they were hooded robes, believed to originate from the Celtic tradition.

The White House (page 20, 21)

The White House has been referred to as the “President’s Palace,” the “Executive Mansion,” and the “President’s House” throughout history.

The site for this iconic building was chosen by George Washington in 1791, with assistance from city planner Pierre L’Enfant.

The cornerstone was laid in 1792, and construction continued for eight years. However, it was John Adams, the second U.S. president, who moved into the partially finished White House on November 1, 1800.

Irish-born architect James Hoban won the design competition for the presidential palace. His winning plan featured a Palladian-style Georgian mansion with over 100 rooms spread across three floors.

The sandstone used for construction came from Aquia Creek quarries in Virginia, despite initial plans to import European stone.

Skilled stonemasons from Edinburgh, Scotland, contributed to the White House’s construction.

Before the White House, there were two other presidential residences: New York and Philadelphia. George Washington occupied both during his eight-year presidency.

The White House covers approximately 55,000 square feet and stands at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

It boasts 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, three elevators, and eight staircases.

Notable features include a bowling alley, movie theater, tennis court, putting green, and a swimming pool.

The building sits on 18 acres of land and has 412 doors and 147 windows.

The White House serves as a symbol of American democracy and a living museum.

Over the years, it has witnessed treaty signings, summit meetings, and significant global events.

Approximately 1.5 million visitors explore its historic halls annually.

The United Nations (UN) (page 26, 27)

The UN is a multipurpose international organization with 193 member countries. Its headquarters are in New York City, and it has regional offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. The official languages of the UN are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

The United Nations was established with several key motivations:

To promote peace, cooperation, and better standards of life for all nations, emphasizing fundamental human rights and global progress.

To maintain international peace and security.

To develop friendly relations among nations.

To achieve international cooperation in solving global problems.

To serve as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in pursuit of these common goals.

Mount Rushmore (page 29, 29)

An iconic sculpture in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum envisioned Mount Rushmore as a “Shrine of Democracy.”

The granite rock face features the carved faces of four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Borglum initially wanted to include a fifth face, but funding constraints and World War II halted those plans.

Mount Rushmore was named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who had visited the area in 1885.

When Borglum had to scrap his plans for an Entablature, he created a new plan for a Hall of Records. The Hall of Records was a large room (80 by 100 feet) carved into Mount Rushmore to be a repository for American history.

Who was Rosa Parks? (Page 30)

Rosa is widely recognized as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” Her courageous act of defiance against racial segregation on December 1, 1955, when she refused to vacate her bus seat for a white passenger, had a profound impact. Although she was not the first person to resist bus segregation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) believed she was the best candidate for challenging the discriminatory laws in court. Her arrest for civil disobedience led to a year-long boycott of Montgomery buses by the Black community.

The case eventually reached the federal courts, resulting in the landmark decision in Browder v. Gayle that declared bus segregation unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Rosa Parks’s unwavering commitment to justice and equality made her an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

Who was Jeanette Rankin? (page 31)

Jeannette Pickering Rankin, a pioneering figure in American politics and women's rights, stands as a luminary in the annals of history. Born in 1880, Rankin shattered barriers as the first woman to hold federal office in the United States when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916. Her indomitable spirit and commitment to equality were evident throughout her life, from her early involvement in the suffrage movement to her historic vote against U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, a principled stance that garnered both praise and criticism. Rankin's advocacy extended beyond suffrage, as she championed causes such as banning child labor and promoting social welfare programs for women and children. Rankin told the Montana Constitutional Convention in 1972, “If I am remembered for no other act, I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”