Since the pandemic’s onset in March, Jackson resident T.J. Fallon has driven around the country visiting the gravesites of presidents, vice presidents and signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s his breakdown:
5 most impressive presidential gravesites
- Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois: The obelisk rises over 100 feet toward the sky and you can see nothing but the top of it as you drive into Oak Ridge Cemetery. The inside of the tomb is simply beautiful. One word, and it fits the man inside — greatness!
- Ulysses S. Grant, Manhattan: Grand. Impressive. A fitting tribute for one of our country’s greatest military men of all time.
- John F. Kennedy, Arlington, Virginia: A touching tribute for a president who’s life ended so tragically. The eternal flame is beautiful. There is something very touching and emotional when you stand at JFK’s gravesite.
- James Garfield, Cleveland: The only presidential casket that is actually on full display inside. A beautiful tribute to a president who had so much promise.
- William McKinley, Canton, Ohio: A large monument with over 100 steps leading up to it. Inside, a majestic tomb where the fallen president rests. McKinley’s Memorial is a fitting match to the other three slain Presidents.
5 least impressive presidential gravesites
- James Buchanan, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: A very basic gravesite that resides in a cemetery in Lancaster. Nothing overly grand or majestic about the site itself. The only president who never married, his gravesite somehow reflects it. Very lonely. Cold.
- Franklin Pierce, Concord, New Hampshire: President Pierce died in 1869 and because of his Southern-sympathizing views, his gravesite did not even mention that he was president until the 1920s! The state that he is buried in, New Hampshire, did not recognize him. His gravesite reflects that lack of admiration.
- Calvin Coolidge, Plymouth Notch, Vermont: President Coolidge is buried in a roadside, hillside cemetery tucked in the mountains of Vermont. Personally, I enjoyed my visit to his gravesite. However, it is extremely underwhelming. His headstone is the same size as all his other family members buried beside him and it just seemed to lack any grandeur.
- Martin Van Buren, Kinderhook, New York: The roadside cemetery is wide open. No gates or fences. The gravesite itself is just a 20-plus foot obelisk that stands out in the middle of this small cemetery. Seemed to be possibly the most “forgotten” presidential resting place.
- Grover Cleveland, Princeton: I would love to be able to say that New Jersey’s only native president has one of the most impressive gravesites. However, that is hardly the reality. President Cleveland’s gravesite is one of the least impressive sites I visited. You would not even think it was a president’s grave until you walked up to it.
5 vice president/Declaration signers’ gravesites worth a visit
- Richard Henry Lee, Coles Point, Virginia: Declaration signer from Virginia. This may be the most unique and incredible gravesite I visited. It is literally in the middle of a corn field that you can only access via dirt roads. Truly incredible!
- Thomas Heyward Jr., Old House, South Carolina: Declaration signer from South Carolina. It feels as though you step back in time as you drive down the long dirt road driveway, with trees that have tons of Spanish moss draping over them lining the sides of the driveway, creating a tunnel effect. Truly southern charm!
- John C. Calhoun, Charleston, South Carolina: Vice president under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, one of just two men to serve as VP under different presidents. His gravesite is very nice, but the old cemetery nestled in the historic, charming Charleston makes this a must-see for any history buff.
- Elbridge Gerry, Washington, D.C.: Vice president under James Madison and a declaration signer from Maryland. Buried in the historic Congressional Cemetery, he’s the only VP and Declaration signer to be buried in the nation’s capital. Historic.
- George Read, New Castle, Delaware: Declaration signer from Delaware. Read’s gravesite is nothing overly impressive. However, he is buried in a church graveyard dating back to 1703! New Castle makes you feel like you stepped back into the late 1700s. Quaint and amazing.
Jerry Carino is community columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues. Contact him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Top political gravesites: The 5 best, worst and obscure ones you should visit