Eight U.S. presidents were born in Virginia, more than any other state. George Washington's Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello are the best-known homes of the Virginia contingent, but history buffs can visit homes or birthplaces of most of the eight. I was surprised to realize that in a half-dozen trips to Virginia, I'd never visited any of them.
The only presidential landmark I'd visited in Virginia is John F. Kennedy's grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Although he was born in Massachusetts, his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, decided he should be buried at Arlington because ''he belongs to the people.'' Inspired by the flame at the grave of the French Unknown Soldier in Paris, she also chose to have Kennedy's grave marked by an eternal flame.
Only one other president, William Howard Taft, is buried at Arlington.
On my most recent trip to Virginia, I drove up from North Carolina along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Virginia's hunt country. I stayed at the Red Fox Inn and Tavern in Middleburg, about an hour's drive from Washington, D.C. The inn dates itself back to a tavern built in 1728. In checking its history, I learned that George Washington -- a young surveyor at the time -- visited the tavern around 1748. So even though I've never visited any of the Virginia presidents' homes, now I can say I crossed paths with the first of them.
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This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states. Read her other postcards at www.MiamiHerald.com/travel.