Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blown Back Into History

A few weeks ago, I watched the first episode of the HBO miniseries John Adams. I'd heard really good things about it and the first episode delivered. I just haven't had a lot of time lately to catch up on the remaining parts.

But today, I was roused rather rudely at 6:15 a.m. It was rude, in part, because I'd stayed up with mom until nearly 3 a.m. watching movies. And it was just generally rude because it was both 6:15 and Sunday. I was roused by rattling windows, lines flapping against the house, and a whooshing noise I've become accustomed to all too well in nearly 22 years at This D*mn House. Strong winds are common along the back of the house where single-level homes and an open alley offer no resistance. In the past, the violent wind has torn off a shutter or two. And, a few months ago, it ripped one of the blades off the outside fan.

Driving rain and winds kicked in Saturday night. The winds got progressively worse overnight, topping out with gusts of 55 mph. I first went to the kitchen window to check the status of the pine tree in the backyard. It has survived its share of battering the past few years and looks it. I'm afraid it won't withstand much more. I begged a few months ago to have it cut down, but Carole would have none of it. I thought for sure that today it would topple, taking both the power and phone lines with it. But my fears proved groundless. (Sometimes it's good to be wrong.)

With the ugly weather and because mom didn't feel well, we were homebound today. While she rested, I cleaned house and decided to pick up on the John Adams series where I'd left it on Saturday. 62- 78- and even 89-minute intervals flew by. And I finally made it to the end. (The seven-part series chronicles the events leading to the American Revolution and a more abbreviated history of the first 50 years of the United States.)

I'm not a flag-waving or flag-wearing patriot. But, that said, I truly believe that, in spite of all her flaws, America is still the best thing going. I just believe that during its 230+ years it has had the misfortune of falling into the wrong hands. This series really brought that home for me. It also brought to life some of the stories I've uncovered in my family genealogy. The ancestor on my mother's side who voted for George Washington. The ancestor of my father's who was, supposedly, murdered around 1781 by a marauding Tory while his wife looked on.

The miniseries gave a great look at the birth of the U.S. from those who made it happen. These are iconic names in U.S. history -- Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton -- but with their underbellies exposed. No matter how great these men were, at the end of the day, they were just that -- men. And some of their actions were ruthless, and self-serving. Not at all like the folks I heard about in history class. These were people who largely had lawyer and farmer as their dayjobs and who probably were only too happy to return to those jobs at the end of it all.

If you have the chance to see it, don't miss it.


Anonymous said...

I noticed ads for that series in the Post Office. I'd love to watch it. Don't forget that there's always an angle with every story that's being told. And more and more today we're getting the revisionist history version where the accomplishments of our Founding Fathers are downplayed because of other less grandiose actions. We're all human and if someone on the outside were to look at any of our lives in two hundred years I'm sure there'd be many actions that could be considered less than righteous. What can't be taken away from these men is that they were living their lives in the time they were living. They didn't have 20th or 21st century hindsight to look back on. I find it fascinating to learn about these men though, even their rough sides. But they were great men all the same. I'm a through and through patriot and wholeheartedly agree with you that there's nothing better than America, even with her faults.

NV said...

It really is good and definitely worth watching. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Believe me, I was in newspapers for 12 years and I work in PR -- I understand angles. :-)

Not disparaging these guys at all, any of 'em. I just think it's important that we don't lose sight of the fact that they were men at the end of the day. Great men. But men, as fallible as the rest of us.