[A photo collage of eight Presidents. From left to right starting from the top: James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton. In the middle is a red box with "Happy Presidents Day," and a white outline of the American Flag.]

President’s Day: Shaping America’s History and Resilience

Presidents Day is a day to recognize the leaders of our country who have shaped and guided this nation’s history. Each President faced different challenges during his service that has shaped our nation today, and many of our Presidents have had some type of disability. From physical disabilities to learning disabilities, these Presidents are worth noting.

  1. James Madison 1809-1817

James Madison was the fourth President of the United States. He is known as the “Father of the Constitution,” drafting the Bill of Rights. Madison had many physical ailments and was physically short and frail. He is also thought to have had epilepsy.

  1. Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States and is known as the “Great Emancipator.” He is best known for holding the Union together during the Civil War and signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the rebelling states. During his presidency, Lincoln and his wife struggled with depression after their young son died. Lincoln is also thought to have had Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disease that affects the connective tissues in the skeleton and muscles. Lincoln’s unusually tall height is the reason why many historians believe he had this genetic disorder.

  1. Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States. He served in office during World War I. He had a learning disability that is thought to be a result from dyslexia. He had multiple strokes, in which he lost dexterity in his right hand. At the end of World War I, Wilson had his most serious stroke, which led to his doctors covering his health problems from the public. His wife, Edith Wilson served as the go-between of the President and the Cabinet.

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He was the only President to serve four terms and guided the country through the Great Depression and World War II. FDR is the most infamous President to have a disability. He contracted polio when he was 39 and was bound to a wheelchair by the end of his presidency. He worked hard to conceal his disability by leaning on people or objects like a podium.

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. He was a commanding general for the Allied forces during World War II and was President during the Korean War. Eisenhower had a stroke during his time in office, which left him unable to speak for a short time. Eisenhower also had a learning disability, but not much is known about this disability.

  1. John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. He was President during the Cold War and known for handling the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK had Addison’s disease, a disease that affects the production of hormones. This disease contributed to JFK’s chronic back pain because his left side was shorter than his right side.

  1. Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

Ronald Reagan was 40th President of the United States. He was known for his ability to work with Congress and worked to improve the American economy. Reagan also began making peace with the Soviet Union. Reagan had a hearing impairment after a gunshot went off near him. He lost hearing in one ear and had to use hearing aids.

  1. Bill Clinton 1993-2001

Bill Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States. During his time in office, the United States was in an era of peace and economic prosperity. He wore hearing aids during his presidency because his hearing declined. Clinton also pushed for greater reform to the American Disability Act and promoted inclusion and independence for people with disabilities.

On Presidents Day, it’s important to remember the leaders who shaped our nation, many of whom faced tough challenges, like disabilities. From James Madison helping write the Bill of Rights to Franklin D. Roosevelt leading in the Great Depression and World War II, each President showed bravery and strength. Even with disabilities, they worked hard for our country. Let’s honor their efforts and make sure everyone, no matter their abilities, has a fair chance to contribute to our nation’s success.