A few nice weight loss images I found:

Arlington National Cemetery – William Howard Taft marker top – 2011
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Image by Tim Evanson
Top portion of the marker over the grave of President William Howard Taft in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery. Taft and his wife, Hellen Herron Taft, are buried in front of the monument; small headstones set flush in the earth mark their graves.

Taft was Governor of the American colony in The Philippines, Secretary of War, President of the United States and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the only man in U.S. history to have been both President and Chief Justice.

Taft suffered from obesity his entire life, which caused severe sleep apnea — leading to continuous exhaustion, some confusion, and other problems. But his real health issue was genetically-caused high blood pressure, for which there was no treatment at the time. His weight problems severely worsened this health issue. As early as 1925, he began to suffer from atrial fibrillation (spasms of the heart muscle), which sometimes caused his heart to shake and quiver so severely he could feel it bouncing in his chest. He also suffered from chronic cystitis (bladder inflammation), bladder stones, gall stones, and kidney stones. After leaving the presidency in 1912, Taft lost 80 pounds, which greatly improved his health.

But as early as 1925, Taft began to suffer from cerebrovascular disease, where blood flow to the brain is reduced — causing loss of attention span, loss of memory (short and long term), and temporary confusion. When he administered the oath of office to Herbert Hoover in March 1929, he was so confused that he flubbed the oath. The cerebrovascular disease worsened in 1928 and early 1929. His weight rose again, his blood pressure rose again, he had artheriosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"), and had angina (severe heart pain) and breathlessness whenever he exercised even moderately.

Taft’s health was very poor by October 1929, but he was able to do his duty as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But by December he was too ill to preside over the court. By the end of January 1930 he was hallucinating. He resigned from the court on February 3,and by the end of February was intermittently comatose. The doctors tried to prolong his life by giving him sugar water orally, intravenously, and through enemas. But he could regain consciousness for only short periods — enough to take a few sips of water — before lapsing back into a coma. He was in a coma for several days before dying on on March 8, 1930.

He was given a state funeral with full military honors. President Hoover proclaimed a thirty-day period of national mourning. All Army posts fired 13 guns at reveille on March 9, followed by a one-gun firing each half hour thereafter until retreat. A 48-gun salute occurred on March 10. On March 11, all Army posts fired a 21-gun salute at at 1430 hours EST, the time scheduled for the end of the funeral service.

The funeral began on March 11, 1930, when Taft’s body was taken from his Washington, D.C., residence and given a military escort to the Capitol. His body lay in state on the Lincoln catafalque in the rotunda until noon. A military procession then escorted the body to All Souls’ Unitarian Church. (President Hoover had offered the East Room of the White House, but Mrs. Taft declined). The members of the Supreme Court were honorary pallbearers.

At the request of the family, Taft was buried at Arlington National Cemetery — the first president to be interred there. A motor procession without military escort took the body to the Fort Myer Gate, where a military escort conducted it it to the grave site.

Mrs. Taft, her two sons and her daughter, Campbell B. Colonel Hodges (Hoover’s military aide), and Colonel Charles G. Mortimer (the officer in charge at Arlington) had visited the cemetery on March 9 and selected a a 2,500-square-foot plot in Section 30. The area at the time had few graves, but was well landscaped.

Mrs. Taft chose sculptor James Earl Frazer to design and create the memorial. The 14.5 foot tall marker is based on the ancient Greek funerary stele. The stone came from a quarry near Stony Creek, Connecticut.

Helen Taft died on May 22, 1943. She was buried next to her husband, becoming the first First Lady to be buried at Arlington.

Taft is one of two presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery (the other is John F. Kennedy), and is one of four Chief Justices buried there. Taft was the only Chief Justice to have had a state funeral.

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Image by .melanie
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