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Fresh Perspective on the Harding Memorial

One of the best things for the Harding Home Presidential Site staff is meeting so many great people from all over the country (and from abroad) who travel to Marion to “meet” President Warren G. Harding.

Summer time is naturally the time when most of our visitors roll into town; July always is the busiest month of the year.Sherry Hall

For those of us who live here in Marion and are used to passing by the Harding Home and Harding Memorial on nearly a daily basis, our unique presidential sites tend to become backdrops as we go to the grocery store or take prom pictures. Try to look at them – no, experience them – as our visitors do.

Hands down, visitors absolutely are wowed by the Harding Memorial. Most can’t believe how large it is, even if they’ve seen photos, and are bowled over by its majestic beauty. Did you know that the Harding Memorial is the largest memorial to a president outside of Washington D.C.? How did that happen?

I bet some middle schoolers could tell you.

At the end of the recent school year, about 260 seventh graders from Grant Middle School came in groups to the Memorial, Veterans Park, and Marion Cemetery to connect a bit with the fabric of our community. At the Memorial, they looked at that magnificent structure with fresh eyes.

They sat on the front steps as we discussed the design of the structure and the layout of the 10 acres of land surrounding it. Check out the information kiosk in front of the Memorial (the round thing with the information panels on it) and you’ll find that the entire site is designed to reflect a Latin cross, with the Memorial itself at the center. You’ll also learn that the design of the Memorial accomplished the president’s simple, final wishes – to be buried beneath an open sky, near a tree.

As they looked out from the Memorial toward the busy intersection of Vernon Heights Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, several of the Grant students said they had never looked out from the Memorial -- their usual views were a quick glance at the Memorial as they sat in traffic. Sound familiar?

“Things look completely different from here,” one boy said.

Once inside the Memorial, the students took a few, quiet minutes to acclimate themselves. They noted the Hardings’ birth and death dates carved into the cool, lightly veined marble walls, pondered over the meaning of the bronze palm branches decorating the president’s sarcophagus and the roses in front of Mrs. Harding’s resting place. They gazed up at the hanging garden high above them and the myrtle “carpet” nestling the two graves.

As they stood among the towering columns, we discussed why the architect had chosen marble as the building material, why he had used two different types of columns, and how the design was inspired by ancient Greece. I asked them for words to describe what the building was trying to tell us.

“Strong.”

“Forever.”

“Safe.”

“Important.”

“Quiet.”

“Special.”

Exactly.

Harding Home& Tomb Events

August 13

The Real Boardwalk Empire, 7 p.m. in the Harding Home tent. What’s the truth about shady characters Harry Daugherty, Jess Smith and Gaston Means? $12 at the door, $10 in advance. Special pricing of $10 at the door, $8 in advance for Friends and Ohio History Connect on (OHC) members.

October 11

84th Annual Harding Scout Pilgrimage, 3 p.m. at Harding Memorial. Free.

October 15

The Klan in Ohio, 7 p.m. Explore the role of the Klan in Ohio – including in the president’s hometown. $10 at the door and $8 for Friends and OHC members.

November 15

Beyond the Ropes, 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. at the Harding Home. Take an in-depth look at one of our cool collections. Reservations required due to limited seating. $10 per person; free for Friends and OHC members.

NOTE: The Harding Home and Tomb are managed by Marion Technical College with Sherry Hall as the Site Manager.

Harding Memorial

 

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Marion Technical College
1467 Mt. Vernon Ave.
Marion, Oh. 43302

740.389.4636
enroll@mtc.edu

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