watch given to Warren G. Harding by the Boy Scouts of America, 1921
to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Birthday Ball
Presidents have often used the visibility of the office to advance
charitable activities. This has included making the first annual blood
donation to the Red Cross and kicking off the United Fund drive with
a telecast from the White House.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who contracted polio when he was thirty-nine, turned his birthday celebrations into national fundraising events for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. These evolved into the highly successful March of Dimes campaign to eliminate polio.
Service uniform hats |
President Richard M. Nixon, impressed by the imperial pageantry of
European guards, attempted to create a more formal atmosphere for
his own state occasions by having new uniforms designed for the White
House Secret Service Uniformed Division. They were first worn during
a 1970 state visit by British Prime Minister Harold.
Americans expect a certain degree of formality with the presidency
but are leery of too much pomp and circumstance. The gold-trimmed
tunics and peaked hats struck many Americans as a comical attempt
to emulate the trappings of European royalty. The black hat was
first to go, replaced by the soft white hat. The entire uniform
was abandoned during the mid-1970s.