Published this September, "Exploring the Libraries of the U.S. Presidents" details a journey visiting Presidential libraries across the country
(Springfield, Virginia) - In 2006, Leonard Kalkwarf and his wife set out to the Midwest, visiting several official U.S. Presidential Libraries including those in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. For the next eight years, they visited all remaining nine libraries throughout the United States, ending their expedition with the library dedicated to President George W. Bush in 2014. This September, Kalkwarf published a new book, "Exploring the Libraries of the U.S. Presidents," detailing his experiences and observations from each of the sites.
"What a fascinating and revealing journey this has been," said Kalkwarf. "The libraries are a glimpse into the lives of the men whose decisions and actions have made our nation what it is today."
During the journey, Kalkwarf realized he was reliving his own history, too. "Hoover became President just a few months after I was born," said Kalkwarf.
President Hoover's library, located in West Branch, Iowa, is the first Presidential Library officially belonging to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Each of the subsequent 12 past Presidents have their own libraries built throughout the country. According to NARA, "when a President leaves office, the National Archives and Records Administration establishes a Presidential project until a new Presidential library is built and transferred to the Government."
Rather than selecting a favorite library, Kalkwarf believes each site well defines and reflects each presidency. In his opinion, the largest and most beautiful of the libraries is President Reagan's, located in Simi Valley, California. "It was so large that Air Force One and Helicopter One were located in one room," said Kalkwarf. He also believed that President Clinton's library in Arkansas was the most organized and that President Carter's and President Johnson's libraries deserve honorable mention, as well.
The Kalkwarfs' journey did not stop at the Presidential libraries; they further challenged themselves to visit at least one site relevant to all 43 past U.S. Presidents. In 2014, that challenge was completed as it took them to various locations, whether Presidential birth sites or other locations important or significant to each. The details surrounding these visits can also be found within Kalkwarf's book.
Kalkwarf has published several books previously; his most recent, "Dear Craig," published in 2013, brings biblical figures to life and gives each modern personalities. "The book took me one year to write and 40 years to research," said Kalkwarf. "Dear Craig" was drawn mostly from sermons that he had given over his career as an ordained minister.
Kalkwarf, a resident at Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, Virginia, is a true Renaissance man. In his remaining leisure time, Kalkwarf also enjoys volunteering and participating in athletic events. Since 2010, he has been a volunteer in the Office of Presidential Correspondence at the White House, where he responds to emails, letters, and phone calls from the American people on behalf of the President. Kalkwarf also hosts a Presidential history program at Greenspring's in-house television station. To add to his many talents, he is also an accomplished athlete; having already received a Gold medal in this year's Northern Virginia Senior Olympics in the three-mile-walk event, he is registered to participate in over a dozen more events from javelin throw to long jump to horseshoes.
ABOUT GREENSPRING: Greenspring, one of 18 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 58-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia. The community is home to nearly 2000 residents, many of whom reside in the community's 1404 independent living apartment homes. At Greenspring, over 200 resident-run and resident-driven programs promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average. Additional information about Greenspring can be found at www.ericksonliving.com.