Gratitude For Hamilton

Who moved the cannons at Fort Ticonderoga?

How far were the cannons moved, and for what purpose?

My kids can answer these questions easily (always accompanied with significant amounts of eye rolling).  This subject may have come up a few dozen times at our family dinners over the years.  I love history – specifically, the history of our country.  Evidently, I tend to give the kids frequent quizzes on the subject.  Why they never seem to feel the passion, emotion, and joy in the stories is completely lost on me.  However, there is a new glimmer of hope.  Not because of me, but because of Lin Manuel Miranda and his inspired musical Hamilton.

Lin Maneul Miranda is the genius who wrote the musical, and his last performance as Alexander Hamilton is on Saturday night.  Katie and I were fortunate to be able to see the show (and his performance) last month while we were in New York.  It was one of those moments that you could feel the energy running through the theater.  It was awesome!  A few points of gratitude for Hamilton:

  • Language – Miranda is a genius (I think he knows that by now).  His genius is being able to credibly use language to describe a man and his story who used words to pull himself out of poverty into a central role in the founding of our country.  The language works on many levels, and has different slices of meaning depending on the context.  Some may object to occasional words that earned the soundtrack a “parental advisory” label on the cover.  Personally, I’d rather hear those occasional words than frequent references to sex like some popular musicals or the sheer creepiness of Phantom of the Opera.
  • Music – Miranda used rap and hip hop because it was the only way he could tell the story in a reasonable amount of time (more words per measure than any other style).  It’s also accurate to say that the genre is most apt to this particular story.  The genre also creates a musical that is as inclusive as possible.  Much has been made of the talented cast.  The musical genre also helps us realize that this 240 year old story is still applicable in our lives today.

“Legacy. What is a legacy?  It’s planting seeds in a garden you will not see.”

The language and the music make Hamilton, and I am grateful for them – grateful for the entertainment and the joyous feelings they provide.  However, the effects of them in my own home are what I am most grateful for.  They have bridged a divide between my generation and our teenage kids.  During a time when it seems difficult to agree on much, we can agree on the virtues of Hamilton.  It provides a common experience between our generations, and provides a platform for increased communication among us.

As I work desperately for the legacy of my family, I am grateful for the legacy of Lin Manuel Miranda and Hamilton.

Oh, and I’m grateful for Henry Knox as well.

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