When David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian, visited New Albany last year, he shared the story of how John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both former presidents, Founding Fathers and Declaration of Independence signers, by remarkable coincidence died on the same day, Independence Day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

The past few years, McCullough has advocated that we do a better job educating our young people about American history.

New Albany residents have been fortunate to have so many respected historians visit our community over the years through the New Albany Community Foundation's Jefferson Series. Foundation donors and sponsors make it possible for the historians to interact with students from New Albany and surrounding high schools.

In addition to McCullough, such historians as Michael Beschloss, James Bradley, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Isaacson, Clarence B. Jones and Jon Meacham have shared insights on our country's most influential leaders.

They possess intimate knowledge of leaders who helped shape our country and guide it through its most challenging times. Among them were Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin Franklin and, of course, Adams and Jefferson.

My second career after leaving the corporate world allowed me to pursue three passions related to history and such luminaries.

I began teaching leadership classes at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. I also serve as a board member for the Civil War Trust and the New Albany Community Foundation.

The Civil War Trust saves battlefields from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War in an effort to preserve our country's rich history. It is important to preserve this hallowed ground and explain what happened there and why it matters.

Through the community foundation, my wife and I have established an endowment fund to support the Jefferson Series.

We believe that much can be learned from studying our country's history, whether it comes from visiting historic sites or from reading the works of our respected historians.

Independence Day is a perfect time to celebrate American history and ensure that the next generation understands the important values reflected in our democratic form of government and all of the people who sacrificed to protect our freedoms.

Jeff Rodek is a member of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees, a member of the Civil War Trust board of trustees and a senior lecturer at the Fisher College at Ohio State University.