I’m definitely a big city kind of girl. The skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle, sights and sounds of coming and going, the shopping, the eating, the lights, the feeling of something always happening–I love it all! Ironically, I now live in the smallest town I’ve ever lived in. With nearly 70,000 residents, Rapid City is by far the smallest place I’ve ever lived.
There are so many things about living in a small town that are hard for me: namely no Costco. Really. The nearest Costco is around five hours away. Some days it’s downright painful and the lack of amenities leaves me feeling oh so disconnected. The proximity to the nearest big city (Denver, around six hours away) sometimes leaves me feeling completely isolated in more ways than one.
However, small town living has its charms. One of the cool things about my town is that it was recently named by USA Today as the Most Patriotic Small Town in the U.S. For this girl who loves her country, that’s pretty darn awesome. If I can’t live in my beloved Washington, D.C., then at least I’ve got something patriotic to hold onto.
This little town has really done its part to earn this distinction. One of my favorite patriotic elements is right in the heart of Rapid City. There’s an area downtown called “The City of Presidents,” where a series of life size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents adorn every corner. It’s so fun to drive around and see President Lincoln sitting on a park bench, or President Reagan standing outside our favorite breakfast spot, or President Bush jaunting down the sidewalk holding onto Barney the dog with one hand and giving you a thumbs up with the other. My entire family loves it. My kids are enthralled by seeing another president every time we turn a corner. When they spot one of the statues, they’ll often call out from the backseat, “Mom, which president is that?” I hate when I don’t know. I can recognize every president from President Bush down to FDR and a few other obvious ones (like George Washington, a no brainer), but after that it’s all just a guess. I feel like I have disappointed them when I don’t have an answer. I suppose, though, I really am just disappointing myself.
So, one of my goals this year is to learn to recognize every single one of those statues so that when my kids ask, I’ll know who it is instantly. But I also want to go a step further. I want to learn every president in order, and also learn at least one fact about each of them. I’m going to teach my kids everything I learn about them. They deserve to know about our presidents, too. Whether or not your own area has a “City of Presidents,” I hope you’ll join me in my New Years goal! It’ll be fun. And hopefully we will all learn a few things along the way. I’m dubbing it “U.S. Presidents 101” so keep an eye out for those upcoming posts.
If you want to get a jump start and join me in learning about the Presidents, here’s a list of all of them.
Former White House and Capitol Hill staffer, wife, and mom.