Huntington's birthday celebrated as a 'forgotten president'

A Color Guard from the Three Rivers Young Marines, from left, Dakota Newth, Steven Newth, Lindsay DeLorge and Lisa DeLorge, march-in to open a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of Samuel Huntington Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Norwichtown Cemetery on the 281st anniversary of Huntington's birth.
A Color Guard from the Three Rivers Young Marines, from left, Dakota Newth, Steven Newth, Lindsay DeLorge and Lisa DeLorge, march-in to open a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of Samuel Huntington Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Norwichtown Cemetery on the 281st anniversary of Huntington's birth. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Norwich — Founding Father Samuel Huntington was honored in song, speeches and prayers Tuesday during the annual wreath-laying ceremony at his tomb in Norwichtown Cemetery.

About 50 people gathered for the ceremony, hosted by the Forgotten Founders branch of the Norwich Historical Society following a national tradition of laying wreaths to mark the birthdays of deceased presidents.

Huntington advocates believe that tribute should be extended to the 10 presidents who served under the Articles of Confederation before the U.S. Constitution was ratified and called for a national presidential election.

Norwich resident and the state’s first official troubadour, Tom Callinan, helped educate the crowd with one song he wrote on Huntington’s achievements — a signer of the Declaration of Independence, president of Congress, chief of the Connecticut Supreme Court and governor for 10 years. A second song listed all 10 “Forgotten Presidents” who served before George Washington.

About 30 students in the Norwich summer school extended learning program were asked in June to envision that Huntington walked into their classroom and asked them what they would do to improve the country.

The four winning essay writers want to eliminate guns — except for use by police — and drugs, end wars, plant fruit trees and crops to feed the hungry, save endangered animals and recycle more trash. Essay writer Scott Brown, an incoming fourth-grader at Uncas School, said he would lower gas and grocery prices and improve education so everyone could get a good job.

Winners received iPods from Walmart and copies of the local Norwich history book “Nine Mile Square,” published by the late William A. Stanley, who launched the Forgotten Founders effort. Stanley’s son, William B. Stanley, now is president of Forgotten Founders and thanked participants for keeping alive the tradition his father started.

“He would be very proud that you young people are here,” Stanley said to the students sitting on the grass in front of the podium.

Essay winners were: Evans Sanon, a seventh-grader at Kelly Middle School; Scott Brown, a fourth-grader at Uncas School; Montaya Perry, a sixth-grader at Teachers Memorial Middle School; and Michelle Zhang, an eighth-grader at Teachers.

c.bessette@theday.com

Students from the Norwich Public Schools Bridges Summer Learning Center examine the tomb of Samuel Huntington Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Norwichtown Cemetery on the 281st anniversary of Huntington's birth.
Students from the Norwich Public Schools Bridges Summer Learning Center examine the tomb of Samuel Huntington Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Norwichtown Cemetery on the 281st anniversary of Huntington's birth. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo
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