Col. John Higgins, the Vice Commander of the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing laid a wreath at the gravesite of President Millard Fillmore at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo on behalf of President Barak Obama last Friday
Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States, was a co-founder of the University at Buffalo and the school’s first chancellor. The university has conducted a memorial ceremony annually since 1937.
The United States Military honors former presidents by laying wreaths sent by the current president at their gravesites on the anniversary of their birth.
The New York Army and Air National Guard traditionally conduct the wreath layings at the graves of President Chester A. Arthur in Menands, Albany County; President Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook, Columbia County; and Fillmore.
Born on Jan. 7, 1800, Fillmore was instrumental in founding the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, the Buffalo Club and the Buffalo General Hospital. His activities also led to the creation of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.
Some historians credit the former teacher, postmaster, lawyer and member of Congress with establishing the White House Library. During his administration the United States opened trade relations with Japan and California was admitted to the union. He died on March 8, 1874.
The 107th Airlift Wing, which is based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, operates C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft in support of United States military operations worldwide. Individual Airmen also deploy regularly to locations around the world.
Photo: Col. Jim McReady, commander of the 107th Airlift Wing, presented the wreath at the Millard Fillmore grave in 2011.