Martin Van who?

Perhaps no one has noticed, but upbeat journalism is the new trend. As a trend it is not overwhelming, and it still does not offset the usual violence and crisis on which the news media thrive, but it is there and should be noticed.

One item which might be classed as upbeat journalism is that Kinderhook, N.Y. , has recently decided to honor Martin Van Buren. As far as upbeat goes, Martin Van Buren is a borderline case, but bringing his name into the news has something cheerful about it, and it isn't going to threaten the popularity of President Reagan.

It is recorded somewhere in the town hall that Van Buren was born in Kinderhook. It is just that up until now nobody particularly cared. Maybe Van Buren himself tried to hush it up.

Some think that the reason it took Kinderhook so long to celebrate the fact it is a presidential birthplace is that no one in town knew Martin Van Buren had been president. This isn't peculiar to Kinderhook. A lot of people didn't know it. Evidently, according to some speculation, a few tourists drove through town looking for a monument, and that started the ball rolling.

They found a monument. It was hidden by some weeds, but it was there. From then on there was a hometown movement to make Martin Van Buren a celebrity.

It turned out, unfortunately, that his birthplace had been torn down in 1920. It was considered an eyesore. Since Kinderhook is not widely known as the Athens of America, it must have been an eyesore indeed. Anyway, it is unlikely it was torn down out of spite. In our modern society, memorials are not as important as parking lots.

The Van Buren mansion, in which he later lived, has been cleaned up. His name is recorded on numerous signs. Parades and grand balls are given in his honor. And, while Martin Van Buren's name still doesn't come up often at parties in Washington, these things can change.

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