Patriots from near and far honored the 243rd anniversary of John Quincy Adams’ birth yesterday, when a White House wreath-laying ceremony was held at United First Parish Church in Quincy. The annual ceremony — superbly organized each year by Arthur Ducharme, director of the church’s Historic Interpretive Program — was particularly moving this year, as the program featured remarks by the Massachusetts native who now holds Adams’ former U.S. Senate seat: Sen. Scott Brown.
Brown, whose wife Gail also attended the ceremony, noted how “humbling” it was to hold the seat held by a man whose entire life, from cradle to the grave, was devoted to the service of his country. He also referenced a quote by Adams that held special significance for him: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
It’s a sentiment, Brown said, he has endeavored to live by each time he has taken a vote during his political career.
Caroline Keinath, deputy superintendent of the Adams National Historical Park, noted how her 11-year-old daughter asked her to bring their “Scott Brown” campaign lawn sign for the senator to sign. “You certainly have helped engage young people in democracy and the political process,” she said.
Other noted guests at yesterday’s ceremonies included Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, state Sen. Robert Hedlund, state Rep. Stephen Tobin, state Sen. Michael Morrissey and Norfolk County Register of Deeds William O’Donnell. City Councilor Margaret Laforest and John Iredale, candidate for state representative, also were in attendance.
The prize for traveling the farthest distance to attend yesterday’s ceremony undoubtedly went to Janine Turner. The well-known actress (“Northern Exposure,” “Friday Night Lights”) flew all the way from Texas with her daughter, Juliette, to attend the ceremony. Turner, a self-professed history buff and John Adams fan since childhood, is co-chair of Constituting America, a non-profit aimed at educating Americans — and children in particular — about the U.S. Constitution. Visit the site to read Turner’s blog post about her Quincy visit and to peruse the wealth of constitutional resources it offers.
President Lyndon Johnson started the tradition of honoring deceased U.S. presidents on their birthdays by sending a large red, white and blue wreath from the White House to be placed on their graves by a military honor guard. Yesterday’s ceremony for John Quincy Adams marked the first time the Quincy ceremony has featured a sitting U.S. senator.