I live about two miles from the entrance to Jefferson’s Monticello. In fact, almost daily my wife and I hike up the trail to his grounds and back. Another three miles down the road stands Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe. Yes, they were literally neighbors. In the winter time, with the leaves gone, you can see one home from the other. Another 40 minutes farther north is Montpelier, renowned home of James Madison. If you had a full day, you could drive another hour to Mount Vernon and visit the home of another very esteemed patriot. A two hour drive from here in another direction would take you to Williamsburg and Yorktown.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think about and appreciate being privileged to live in this historical area. But that’s not all of it.
We are literally surrounded by famous battlefields in the nation's struggle to make all men truly free and equal. Within an hour from here are such places as Richmond, Petersburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Appomattox. In under two hours you can be at The Peninsula, Antietam or Bull Run. Only one half hour away is a place where a then little known union officer won what was called the most lopsided victory of the entire war. His name was George A. Custer.
These statesmen and soldiers were from all walks of life, ranging from aristocracy to dirt farmer. They gave us everything that makes us the great nation we are; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Monroe Doctrine and later, emancipation. All had one thing in common. They believed in doing something to better the lives all men. They did this by making sacrifices of life and property and most importantly, owning their destiny.
I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already to visit this area and take in the aura of history. That includes those who already live here but take it for granted. It can be overwhelming, but I think one might come away with a greater appreciation of what this country went through to have all that it does.