My passion for learning about U.S. presidents can be traced back to February of 2002, when I was just a seven-year-old second grader. It all started with a Scholastic book order I had been given at school, and my mother, for reasons still unknown to me to this day, ordered me a book titled So You Want to Be President. I initially had no interest whatsoever in reading it, but when I did I became enthralled by its interesting facts about the commanders-in-chief and its humorous illustrations. My fascination continued to grow, as did the number of president books I owned. Within the next year or so I was able to visit several president-related sites, such as Mount Vernon, the Adams National Historical Park, and a handful of tombs.
Then one night in December 2003, my father told me about a television program he watched which discussed how the founder of the political channel C-SPAN, Brian Lamb, having been inspired by historian Richard Norton Smith, visited the graves of every president. Once I heard what he had to say, I asked my father a fateful question: could we visit the graves of all the presidents too? The answer, clearly, was yes.
So at age nine I officially started my quest to visit all the presidential burial sites, a quest which progressively expanded to include the graves of vice presidents, signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and other people of note. In my travels I also began visiting a variety of other sites that include presidential libraries and museums, presidential residences, and state capitols. www.kurtshistoricsites.com, launched in 2009, is an outlet for me to share my journey with others through the pictures and videos taken on my trips, as well as a way to teach visitors what I have learned through this unique method of "hands-on history." Much of my knowledge has been taken from books, but so much more has come from visiting historic sites and seeing artifacts and documents firsthand.
On April 19, 2012, at age seventeen, I completed the core portion of my hobby by traveling to my last remaining presidential burial site: Lyndon B. Johnson's. Less than two years later I paid my respects at the grave of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and in doing so became possibly the only person in the world to visit all 66 U.S. presidential and vice presidential burial sites.
In May 2016 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and in fall 2017 I will pursue my Masters degree in the same field. I also am a photo contributor and historical researcher for Roadside America's Roadside Presidents mobile app.