A Bell That Took Time to Become Famous

July 4th, 1776.  It’s Indpendence Day in the United States and one of the symbols of our freedom is the Liberty Bell.  But most folks don’t know the real story behind that bell…a bell that really was not famous at all until more than a half century after that famous July 4th in Philadelphia…

How a Sixteen Year Old Saved the United States

Where did the American Revolution end?  Why Wheeling, West Virginia of course–when a sixteen year old girl saved the newly founded United States…

A String A Battles on the Western Frontier

It’s a chapter of the American Revolution that few know today–a string of battles fought on what was then the western frontier…

Six D.C. Sites to Visit During a Government Shutdown

I was just in the nation’s capital gathering audio for our daily broadcasts.  For tourists, the government shutdown means many of the sites they planned to see are now closed.  However, there is still plenty to see and do in the D.C. area.  Here are my ideas for a great visit to the city.


guardsArlington National Cemetery, which is operated by the military, remains open. That means a visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns should be on any visitor’s list of planned activities in Washington. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is held every hour on the hour at this time of year.   You can get more information about a visit to the cemetery at its website. And the cemetery even has a mobile app that allows visitors to locate specific grave sites on the grounds during their visit.


220px-The_Octagon_House_-_Washington,_D.C.Two Executive Mansions.  Let’s face it, the chances of you getting inside the White House were slim anyway, so go to Lafayette Park (on the north side of the White House) and enjoy the view.  The last time I was there, I watched the arrival of a visiting head of state.  Just a couple of blocks to the southwest, you can visit the Octagon House, the executive mansion used by President Madison after the British burned Washington in 1814.  The American Institute of Architects owns the building, but call ahead and they can usually give you a tour. And for an added bonus, the Octagon House is supposedly one of the most haunted in the Washington DC area.


Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.09.50 AMMt. Vernon is privately owned and still open.  When I spent more time in D.C., I actually had an annual pass to Washington’s home.  I loved to go there and simply walk the grounds.  The home on the Potomac and its museum are great to see anytime of the year.

You might have seen that the parking lots at Mt. Vernon were briefly barricaded by overzealous federal employees, even though the site isn’t owned by the federal government. Mt. Vernon has gone to great pains to make sure everyone knows that was just a fluke — updating their website to include the words “We’re Open!” right on the front of the page.


Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.19.11 AMThe International Spy Museum provides a glimpse at the secret world of espionage.  There are lots of artifacts, hand-on displays and you can even play the role of a spy and compete against others in your group to successfully complete your mission.

The museum isn’t just about real-life spies, either. Right now, they have an exhibit called Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains, where you can learn more about the bad guys who’ve squared off against James Bond on the Silver Screen.


Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.24.07 AMAlexandria, Virginia is an easy metro ride from the city.  Get off at King Street station and walk around Old Town.  Many sites in this city are still open.  Log on to get maps for walking tours and hours of these sites.  It’s also a great place to catch lunch or enjoy a nice dinner along the Potomac. The local tourism bureau even has a list of free things to do in Alexandria.


10111735546_74f4f01349_qThe main sites are closed but…remember places like the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the Washington Monument are, after all, outdoors.  So while there are fences keeping people from going “inside” the site, you can still get a great view, albeit from a bit farther back.  It’s also a great time to take a bus tour of the city, or a boat tour on the Potomac.  The guides will help fill in the pieces you can’t currently see.


Remember, some of these sites do charge admission, others are free, but ALL are open and are worth a visit, even when the government eventually does reopen for business.

The Truth About Paul Revere’s Famous Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five, Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year. You may remember that famous Longfellow poem, but we separate fact from fiction on this edition of The American Countryside.

Fact vs Fiction of the Famous Ride

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five, Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year. You may remember that famous Longfellow poem but in a moment we’ll separate fact and fiction…..

A Famous Dentist

He’s probably the most famous dentist that helped win the Revolutionary War. You might not know he cleaned teeth, but you do know his name…..

British or Revolutionary?

Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran–there are many labels that may be placed on churches. However, during the early years of this church, the label was either British or Revolutionary, and those who stepped inside the building were most likely not going to hear a sermon…..

St. Paul’s Church

Just outside of New York City proper, yet well within the urban corridor, sits a church in the suburb of Mt. Vernon, New York. It looks out of place as business and industry surrounds it. However, the reason it remains is because it is a symbol of the struggle for freedom that took place here….

Vincennes Rendevous

In 1779, soldiers of the American Revolution set foot here to capture lands for the new United States. Over two centuries later, the revolutionaries are still arriving…..

Raising An Army at Harvard

Today Harvard is recognized as one of the top universities in the world. In 1775, it became the home of men fighting for the cause of freedom…

What Happened to the Loyalists?

When the American revolution began, there were many living in the colonies that remained loyal to the king. In many cases, they fled the new nation and had their property commandeered by the patriots…