National Geographic : 1966 Sep
KODACHROMEBY RICHARD5. DURRANCE ) N.G.S. "Our own dear Monticello-where has Nature spread so rich a mantle under the eye? -mountains, forests, rocks, rivers." Thus Jefferson described the surroundings of his beloved home. "He placed his mind, as he had done his house," wrote French traveler Chastellux, "on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe." that Jefferson lived in, and loved, than at any time since he died." The short winter day was ending as we drove down the mountain. I stopped at the family cemetery, still maintained as private property by Jefferson's descendants. Joe and I walked up the short flight of steps. Before us, the new monument over Jefferson's grave gleamed softly in the twilight. He chose to be remembered by three achievements now inscribed on the granite shaft: "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, 444 and Father of the University of Virginia." "It doesn't say anything about him being President of the United States," Joe noticed, trembling now from the cold. "He thought these things were more impor tant," I told him. "That's why people like you and me come here." As we left the mountain, the bright constel lations of Taurus and Orion were swinging into the eastern sky. We watched them rise. Joe looked back, trying to pick the outline of the mountain from the dark sky. He asked me if every President was interested in prehistoric animals and stars. Watching his face, I could only be glad that one was.