Rich or poor, most American presidents didn’t exactly have it easy during their formative years. As reported by ABC News on Feb. 25, 2016, even the privileged teen years of Barack Obama fall into the category of “brutal.” According to Obama, that is.
As Obama penned in his treatise on his first job and also the importance of youth employment that was posted to LinkedIn on Feb. 25, 2016, “Scooping ice cream is tougher than it looks. Rows and rows of rock-hard ice cream can be brutal on the wrists. As a teenager working behind the counter at Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu, I was less interested in what the job meant for my future and more concerned about what it meant for my jump shot.”
The Chief Executive made note of how tough things are for the “one in seven young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and don’t have a job.” However, Obama was conspicuously silent on how the economy of his making is effecting black youth. Case in point: As cited by NJtoday.net on Feb.25, 2016, the real unemployment rate for black high school graduates from 17 to 20 years old “was 51 percent, according to an Economic Policy Institute.”
Despite a young Barry Obama living the hard life of slinging really, really cold Double Chocolate Chip Mudslide ice cream on the mean streets of Honolulu, past Commanders-in-Chief have led an arguably rougher teen years. Just a few examples include:
- Andrew Jackson served in the Continental Army during the War of Independence. He was captured by the British, then sent to a Prisoner of War camp where he almost starved to death. While in captivity, a British officer struck him across the left hand and head with a sabre when a young Jackson refused to clean the officer’s boots. During the war, Jackson’s mother and two brothers died at the hands of the enemy. All these travails befell Jackson while he was 13-14 years-old.
- At the age of 15, Lyndon Johnson left his home state of Texas to head to California in the hopes of making enough money to pay for his college tuition. While in California, Johnson picked fruit and vegetables, washed cars, and did various manual labor odd jobs. As he hitchhiked back home, Johnson also took a job on a work crew building roads across the Southwest.
- Being from one of the more well-to-do families in New England, George H. W. Bush could have sat out World War II at least in a cushy state-side posting if called up for military service. However, on his 18th birthday, Bush joined the U.S. Navy where to earned his wings. Three days before his 19th birthday, Bush was assigned to pilot the Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bomber. At the time, he was the youngest combat pilot in the history of the U.S. Navy.