Patriotism Reclaimed

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One of the things I’ve thought about as I’ve witnessed the Republican Party implode and become who many of us already thought their politicians were, proving their cravenness, selfishness, greed and lack of moral character, I’ve wondered how the rest of us, the Democrats, the Progressives, the Resistance, the AMERICANS can continue to have the strength to speak out and to do whatever we can to bring our democracy back for everyone, and this statement from Jon Lovett last week said it perfectly:

“We had to figure out how to love our country enough for them too.”
This is what we’re doing because this is who we are.

The next statement of his that I’m sharing summed up how I, and many more, felt after the 2016 Election:

“I think we’ll look back on this as the moment where we decided that we weren’t participating because we were patriotic; we were patriotic because we were participating.” – Jon Lovett


I start every Saturday morning (whenever that mysterious time is) by listening to Jon Lovett’s Lovett or Leave It podcast from Crooked Media. Oftentimes, he says what I’m thinking. Last week I wasn’t able to listen until Monday morning because of some family obligations, and his last rant on the rant wheel was so profound, so relatable, so needed, that I listened to it twice. Then I posted the link on my Facebook, and added one of the two comments above that really got me in the feels, and I went on.

But I didn’t delete that podcast as I would have normally done. I don’t know why I kept it in my dowloads, but I did, and each time I listened to something else and deleted it, I saw it there, and I thought, in passing, it’s time to delete it, but I didn’t. Even this morning, his new podcast for the week dropped (I haven’t listened to it because I’m on retreat and in a different mindset, but will probably listen tonight because I can only go so long without Jon Lovett’s words of wisdom) and I still have yet to delete last week’s.

I’d recommend listening to the whole thing (and subscribing to hear each one), but I’ve queued this one up to that moment he spoke directly to me, and I think he’ll speak to you as well:

Lovett or Leave It, timestamped for his rant on Patriotism

Following Alexander Hamilton’s Footsteps in Albany, NY

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The Hamilton phenomenon is more than breaking records on Broadway and changing the face of the Great White Way, but it’s also reminding history buffs like me that we have a great and storied past to explore, often in our own backyards. As a child and an adult, I’ve been to Gettysburg, Williamsburg, St. Augustine, but I’ve forgotten that we have history from the same time right here in New York. In fact, much of our national Revolutionary War history took place in New York, from the battles to the newly formed government. This is especially true here in the capital region, near where I live.

Hamilton, the musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first treasury secretary, the first political sex scandal, a man murdered by the Vice President of the United States.

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1 of 4 remaining smaller versions of a statue that stood on Wall Street in Manhattan.

Alexander Hamilton, who made New York his adopted home, who was married in Albany and spent summers there with his family, Chief of Staff to George Washington, traveling everywhere with him has made a resurgence in the Albany Capital Region (among other places including cementing his face on the ten dollar bill).
I’m a history buff, living in the heart of it, and I missed all of this in school; or I’d forgotten it. I don’t know which.

Lucky for us, however, sites in the area have jumped on the Hamilbandwagon and have set up special tours and exhibits. I recently went on a new tour at the Schuyler Mansion: “When Alexander Hamilton Called Albany Home.”

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The front of the Schuyler Mansion. The porch and vestibule pictured were not there during the Schuylers' time in the house, but was kept during the restoration because of the renown of the architect.

The Schuyler Mansion is the home of Hamilton’s in-laws, Phillip and Catherine Schuyler, Catherine herself a member of the equally impressive Van Rensselaer family. It is also the place where Alexander married his dear Eliza, a small room about the size of my own living room in the magnificent expansive English manor house.

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The Room Where it Happened. Alexander wed Elizabeth Schuyler in this room in front of a small group of family and friends.

A smaller room off the second hall served as a study for General Schuyler and was where Hamilton and Aaron Burr pored over legal texts when they worked together on a case. I have to admit, with the colorful green and the writing desk and books and maps, this was probably my favorite room and one I wouldn’t mind spending some time in behind the velvet rope.

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Study where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr looked over General Schuyler's massive book collection for their work as lawyers.

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Those are actual books belonging to Phillip Schuyler.

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In a recent article in the Albany Times-Union, a trifecta of Hamilton events were highlighted and the ones I’d like to share with you here today.

Put together by the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau, it includes information on the tour at the Schuyler Mansion that I mentioned earlier. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 518-434-0834 or visiting their website for more information.

The second part is a Free Walking Tour. Go to their website and download the PDF. This is the next item on my to-do list for this summer.

The third is an exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art titled, “Spotlight: Alexander Hamilton. Their information can be found at their website or by telephone at 518-463-4478.

Hamilton isn’t the only history to explore in this area. I hope to bring you a few more as the week progresses.

Roadside America

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When I was a kid I was lucky enough that my parents took my siblings and I on many family vacations. I learned history on many of these trips. We visited family in Toronto, Canada, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We also went to Niagara Falls, the Ontario Science Center, and Disneyworld. We were really lucky. A few of the other places we traveled to on our East Coast adventures were what you might call kitschy or roadside attractions. We never saw a great ball of twine or see Area 51 or even the Corn Palace, but we went to Amish Country, the Fountain of Youth, South of the Border and Zinn’s Diner (now closed). I remember the last two vividly. South of the Border was like entering into a fantasyland filled with neon lights and fireworks stands. The giant man in the sombrero was even more gigantic to small children, aged 4-8.

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Photo Credit: Leonard J. DeFrancisci, July 2008

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Photo Credit: Matthew Logan

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Zinn's Diner Postcard

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Public Domain

The Disney/Pixar movie Cars reminded us of those things found on the road trip of following Route 66, seeing things that couldn’t be seen anywhere else, and I thought about my childhood of road trips both north and south. Everyone should see at least one ridiculous roadside attraction in their lives, and if they’re lucky, they should see many more.

Here are a few suggestions and resources:

Budget Travel’s 25 Wackiest Roadside Attractions (Slideshow)

Budget Travel’s Ultimate Road Trip App

Things You Will See on a Road Trip Across America

South of the Border

Amos the Amish Man Giant Statue

Amos’ Current Location

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Corn Palace

Great Ball of Twine

Route 66

Niagara Falls – not so much roadside attraction, but a can’t be missed world wonder

Visit Area 51

Area 51 Sightseeing

Don’t Panic: Visiting Area 51

America’s Car Museum

Saratoga Automobile Museum