Sunday, February 3, 2013

This is Ohio Idol - McKinley Out

Ohio Idol Bill McKinley
in bobblehead form
Did you know that Ohio's State Flower is the red carnation?
Did you know it had something to do with one of the US Presidents from Ohio who died in office?
If you said "who cares?", then you may stop reading now.
On February 3rd, 1903 the Ohio State Assembly named the red carnation the state flower for recently assassinated US President and former Ohio Governor William McKinley. "The Idol of Ohio" as he was called was known for picking fights with Spain and wearing a red carnation in his lapel.
The origin of his carnation love affair started with a man named Levi Lamborn, who was a horticulturist and brought some of the first carnations to the US from France. Lamborn was McKinley's rival for a US Congressional seat and before a debate, as a friendly gesture presented McKinley with one of his red carnations. McKinley went on to win that election and since that time took a fancy to the flower he considered good luck. Years later after he was elected the 25th President, Levi sent him more red carnations and McKinley always kept a vase of them on his desk. Now that I think about it, it seems odd that a grown man would give another grown man flowers, not once but at least twice. Not that there's anything wrong with it. Just sayin'.
In 1901 while at an expo in Buffalo NY, a 12-year-old girl was admiring the red carnation in the President's lapel. McKinley gave it to the young girl. Moments after that he was shot by an assassin and died eight days later from his wounds.
September 14th, the date of McKinley's death is known statewide as Red Carnation Day and is celebrated with much fanfare and jubilees. Ok, that's a lie, the day goes by pretty much unnoticed.

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