If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you’ve probably figured out that I’m the tiniest bit interested in Broadway shows. If you’ve looked a little deeper, you’ve probably reached the conclusion that I somewhat enjoy the musical “Hamilton” (OK, who are we kidding, I’m completely obsessed with Broadway, and “Hamilton” is one of the best musicals in existence).
Now that we’ve made that clear, I’d like to point out that one of the reasons I love “Hamilton” so much is because it truly makes history come alive. Sure, some of the historical details are a bit sensationalized for the sake of the stage, but, in general, it takes the story of the American Revolution and infuses it with contemporary music to make it appealing to this generation.
However, a few weeks ago, I experienced something that made both the Revolution – and “Hamilton” – seem more alive and relevant than ever before. I went to Philadelphia with my family as part of a summer getaway to Pennsylvania, and it made me see American history and this American musical in a completely different light.
During our time in Philadelphia, we not only got to try authentic Philly cheesesteaks and see the Liberty Bell, that we also got to visit historical sites that were foundational to the formation of our nation. My favorite stop was Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. I was obviously elated to be walking the same ground that Alexander Hamilton and George Washington had once walked, but I also was fascinated by the knowledge that America as we know it had its beginnings in that hall.
Our tour guide made an interesting point during her presentation that I had never really considered before: By signing the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers could have easily been signing their own death warrant. They had no way of knowing whether their revolution would succeed, yet they knew full well that if they were to fail, they could be tried and executed for treason. The thing that amazes me is that even with the knowledge of the risk they were taking, they signed the document anyway. Their belief in the ideals of freedom and liberty that continue to shape our nation today far outweighed their fear, and I think that is truly admirable.
If “Hamilton” is any indication, the founding fathers were far from perfect. Their personal lives were often messy, and some of their actions were far from commendable. Yet standing in the same room they were in when they took the biggest risk of their lives, all for the sake of ensuring life and liberty for those who would come after them, was a humbling and eye-opening experience. Even though our country has a lot of flaws, it has stayed true to those values that the founding fathers were willing to die for, and I’m grateful I get to live in a nation with such strong ideals as this one.
After my visit to Philadelphia and Independence Hall, I have a newfound appreciation for those who founded our country, and I know I will never listen to “Hamilton” the same way again. Sure, the musical is a spectacle of amazing music and stellar choreography, but it also tells the story of men who risked everything for our nation – a nation I’m increasingly thankful to call home.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.