In 2003, nine-year-old presidential enthusiast Kurt Deion presented his father with an audacious request: would he help him follow in the footsteps of historian Richard Norton Smith and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb by taking him to visit the final resting place of each dead U.S. president? He got all he asked for, and more.
Deion’s journey to these tombs, and from elementary school neophyte to college history major, was unorthodox. With his zany, boundary-pushing father at the wheel, the straight-laced youngster found himself sneaking a camera past Secret Service agents, purposely locked in a cemetery enclosed with barbed wire, and handcuffed to the former Dallas homicide detective who was tethered to alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby. Most daringly, he (reluctantly) gained entry to a vice president’s private family burial ground in order to possibly become the lone person to have visited each presidential and vice presidential grave, collectively.
In this history-driven memoir, Deion reconstructs his decade-long, cross-country quest and analyzes the evolution of his perspective on the commanders-in-chief and what it means to visit a cemetery.