Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: OLA: Digging into Ohio's History

Monday, September 5, 2011

OLA: Digging into Ohio's History


Santa Maria, the ship Columbus sailed from Spain in 1492 to land on American shores

Staying three weeks in one place affords us some time to get to know it. We could have gone on to visit many historical sites but we also had to take care as Bill was just recuperating from his arthroscopic surgery. So we did a little digging (not the archaeological kind) of the state's history, especially about the two historical contests she has found herself in.

First, there have only been 44 presidents in the US and 8 came from Ohio! William Henry Harrison, his grandson Benjamin Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren Harding all made Ohio their home or were born there. We enjoy visiting presidents’ homes. Walking where great men walked is one thing; to be where they lived is quite another! So we visited both the Harrison homes.
home of William Howard Taft on Auburn Hill

It also happens that the home of William Howard Taft is right in front of The Christ Hospital.  Taft was the first Governor-General of the Philippines, laying the foundation of the country’s public systems and infrastructure. With a background that is deep into the US judicial system, this gave him the administrative experience for the presidency. And his strong judicial background gave him the unique opportunity to be the only president who later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

home of Benjamin Harrison in Indiana
But it is a different state which is dubbed the “Mother of Presidents’. 8 US presidents, most of them soon after the 1776 Revolution, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson, either made Virginia their home or were born there. Two years ago, we visited Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Jefferson’s Monticello and Poplar Forest (his summer home), Madison’s Montpelier, and Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland.

William Henry Harrison's Tomb in Ohio
Thus the title that is given Ohio is ‘The Mother of Modern Presidents’. It is interesting to point out that William Henry Harrison is in both lists. He moved to Ohio from Virginia (his grandson Benjamin moved later to Indiana) and his grand tomb rests there. He served the shortest presidential term ever, dying of pneumonia just a month after his inauguration.

Second, Dayton, Ohio is the birthplace of Orville and Wilbur Wright but it was in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where the brothers succeeded in first flying a plane (a glider).  Thus North Carolina is called ‘The Birthplace of Aviation’. Ohio, on the other hand, carries the title, ‘The Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers’ and it is well deserved! Huffman Field, where the Wright Brothers tested and launched the first practical plane, is called the First Airport in the World.   And John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, pioneer astronauts, were born in Ohio!
Huffman Field, World's First Airport, where the Wright Brothers launched the first practical plane

Ohio's Pride!!!
Because of the tremendous contribution of the Wright Brothers to aviation, the outstanding National Air Force Museum is in Dayton, Ohio, the best flight museum in the country. It boasts of the most comprehensive exhibit of military aircraft (about 300 planes) used in all the wars the US has been involved, from WWI to the Cold War. I was especially moved by the early dirigible, the bomber Bockscar which delivered the 2nd atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki (Enola Gay that bombed Hiroshima is in the Smithsonian), and the collection of missile heads. Bill loved the bombers, fighter jets, and stealths.

Lucius Quinctus Cincinnatus with Big Mac Bridge behind
Third, this is the uncontested part! Ohio has inspired many great works of men (for a time, the state had the highest inventions per capita) and many great men have also inspired the state! Cincinnati is proud to be named after the Roman general, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. He was forced to work on his own small farm after his son was convicted in absentia and condemned to death. In 458 BC, Rome called on him to quell an invasion by rival tribes as its dictator, an office he immediately resigned after achieving victory.

This has been an oft-cited model (Washington’s?) of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, and modesty. But Cincinnati is not the capital of Ohio. It is Columbus and there we found the most authentic replica of the Santa Maria, the ship Columbus sailed from Spain in August of 1492, arriving on American soil two months after, changing the world forever. A giant statue of him stands in front of the City Hall, a gift from Genoa, Italy, the town from whence he came.
Voice of America Relay Station

Fourth, this is the coolest part! Taft was not the only connection to the Philippines. En route to the Cincinnati Tennis Open we also chanced upon the National Voice of America Museum in West Church, Ohio. It was the relay station of the significant radio of the WWII.  VOA became quite prominent in the Philippines even after the war because it became the country’s most reliable source of foreign news. These little connections to Philippine history were particularly heartwarming for me.


Next Stop: Flying to Las Vegas