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N.Y. Air Guard Honors Former President and Buffalo Native

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell
  • 107th Attack Wing

With temperatures below zero, the 107th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard honored the nation’s 13th president with a wreath laying ceremony at his grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery here, on Jan. 5, 2017.

Col. David Warnick, commander of the 107th Mission Support Group, laid the wreath on behalf of President Trump in front of dignitaries and admirers of President Millard Fillmore. The 107th has represented the president for more than three decades.

“It’s important to honor former presidents,” said Warnick. “It is a chance to revisit their legacies and open discussion on their administration.”

The wreath, adorned in red, white and blue flowers, is presented by the White House to each former president on their birthday. Fixed to the top of the wreath is a bow in our nations colors with a card attached that simply reads “The President.”

“It was quite an honor representing the office of the president,” said Warnick.

Fillmore was one of the founders of the University at Buffalo, of which he was the first chancellor, holding the position while he was vice president in 1849, and president from 1850 to 1853. He also helped to found the Buffalo Historical Society which today includes the Buffalo History Museum and Tifft Nature Preserve, in 1862.

When the Civil War broke out, Fillmore was the commander of the Union Continentals which was a militia of men from upstate New York. They were dedicated to the defense of Buffalo should the Confederate Army attack, which ultimately did not. Fillmore remained active with them after the war, and participated in guarding President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train when it came through Buffalo.

“Millard Fillmore’s impact on the greater Buffalo area can be seen in all walks,” said Charlton. “Whether it be the SPCA, Albright Knox, the historical society, and commitment to education, it has affected many Western New Yorker’s.”

That legacy began in 1828 when Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly. After serving one term, he was elected a representative in 1832. Serving in Congress until 1843, he was unsuccessful in running for governor, though he was elected as comptroller in 1848 and served until 1849.

Fillmore became president when Zachary Taylor died suddenly a year into his 1849 presidential election. Not able to secure the Whig Party nomination for the 1852 election, Fillmore left the White House as the last Whig president, and returned to Buffalo and lived out the rest of his life in service to the community until his death on March 8, 1874.