Visiting Our History

Wilmer McLean was a grocer who lived near Manassas Virginia. On Sunday July 21 1861, his house became involved in the First Battle of Bull Run. Wishing to escape the war, he sold that house and moved further south and west to a small community named Appomattox Court House. Then on Sunday April 9, 1865, his house was again involved in history as General Grant met with General Robert E Lee in the parlor of McLean’s house to discuss the surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Civil War.

Today that house is part of a National Historic Site and is preserved just as it was on that Palm Sunday in 1865 as well as the rest of that small community. Last September, I visited that site and learned quite a bit about an important part of our nation’s history.

Also, on that trip to Virginia, I visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, our third President and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Another home nearby that I visited was Montpelior, the home of James Madison who succeeded Jefferson as President and is considered as the father of the constitution.

This month our nation celebrates the 245th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the date that people in the United States call the birth of our nation. That document was signed in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which is another National Historic Site. The original Declaration of Independence as well as the original constitution are on display in the National Archives in Washington DC. I visited the National Archives with my family on a vacation in 1962. Also on that vacation, we visited the Antietam battlefield in nearby Maryland where a pivotal battle of the Civil War was fought in September 1862.

As part of a group of Boy Scouts attending the National Jamboree in July 1964, we took some time to visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The National Jamboree of scouts from all over the nation was held not far outside Philadelphia at Valley Forge, another National Historic Site where George Washington and his soldiers spent a harsh winter during the War for Independence. At the time I was a student at Valley Forge High School and it was exciting to actually be at the location that gave my high school its name.

But one doesn’t need to go out of state or far to visit a National Historic Site. There are many located in Ohio and some a short drive from Cleveland. One such National Historic Site is Lawnfield in Mentor. It was the home of James A Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. His presidency lasted only six and a half months in 1881. He was shot in the railroad station in Washington DC by an irate office seeker just four months after being inaugurated as President. He lingered on for two and a half months before dying in September 1881.

His house in Mentor is preserved just as it was in 1881 when he became President. Visiting there one can learn about the life and times of the last President born in a log cabin.

Another presidential home is about a 90 minute drive from Cleveland in Marion Ohio. One hundred years ago last November Warren Harding was elected President of the United States on his 55th birthday in a landslide.

He is not remembered as one of our nation’s best presidents, but throughout his brief presidency he was very popular with the people. His house has been preserved just as it looked in the summer of 1920 when he was running for President. Recently a large building was built behind the house that houses a museum and library. Warren Harding was the last of seven presidents born in Ohio. His presidency was also brief, lasting only two and a half years, He died in office from a heart attack in San Francisco while on a western trip that made him the first President to visit Alaska while in office.

Visiting historic sites is one way to really learn about our nation’s history and the people who shaped that history. It isn’t just about the men. Not far from Cleveland, in Seneca Falls New York in the finger lakes region is the National Women’s Rights Historic Site where in 1848, a group of women met and adopted a resolution calling for full citizenship rights for women. Seventy two years later the 19th amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote in our nation’s elections.

So, with the nation getting out again after the pandemic, get out there and consider visiting some of our nation’s historic sites. It makes for a great trip and you might learn something.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 8:43 AM, 07.01.2021