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COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, DAY -- DOES IT MATTER?_ Okay. We have watched everything on Netflix and Amazon; have arthritic fingers from playing online games and exhausted our collection of recipe books. And while our relentless pursuit of the perfect cocktail continues, Pam and I decided maybe it was time to do some self-improvement. How about going to Yale?
It actually all started one evening when -- over cocktails -- we wondered what courses --preferably free --might be available online. A search on YouTube produced thousands of options. The one that really intrigued us the most was a Yale Course on "The American Revolution" with Professor Joanne B. Freeman.
It was a series of 25 lectures, each about 45 minutes or so, that covered the lead-up to the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War and the aftermath, when a new government was formed. Thanks to "Hamilton," U.S. history is hot, and while we loved the musical, we were both big history buffs long before Lin-Manual Miranda's masterpiece hit the stage.
So we set aside time every day to "attend class" and see what we could learn. Boy, did it ever over-deliver.
First off, we really connected with Prof. Freeman. I don't recall many of my teachers being so energetic and engaging. Plus, it was obvious from the start she had a deep knowledge of her subject matter.
Second, while you may think you know U.S. history from that time period, we learned so much more as Prof. Freeman did a deep dive into the people, events and attitudes that led to 13 colonies declaring their independence from Britain. For example, going to war was always seen as a last resort by the colonists, who only wanted to have the same rights and privileges as any other British subject.
And yes, while the Founding Fathers were awesome, Prof. Freeman made them human as well, giving us insights to the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly for Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Adams and others. She also added some humor to the mix -- at one point, she displayed a gift from one of her students: A James Madison action figure doll, complete with Colonial garb. (Full disclosure: It was formerly a GI Joe -- Madison wasn't that buff.)
As she described the events after the war ended, I was amazed at how the colonies ever came together to form a government. All together, it made the story of America that much more remarkable.
There were points in the lectures where i was dying to raise my hand and ask a question. Like, when the colonists won a battle and captured thousands of British soldiers, what did they do with the prisoners of war since they could hardly feed and clothe themselves? I guess you can only get so much for free, right?
As new members of the Freeman Fan Club, Pam did a little research on our teacher and discovered, not surprisingly, she is one of the leaders in her field. With multiple books, including one on Hamilton that Miranda used as source material, she has many honors and accolades to her credit.
As the last lecture concluded, we were both sad it was over. We had learned so much, not the least of which is that the revolution that created a government "for the people and by the people" is still ongoing. Given our present-day political climate, you can't hep but wonder what our Founders would think about where their experiment in democracy is now. A lot of food for thought, and isn't that what learning is all about?
So we raise a glass to Yale, for providing these lectures for free, and to Prof. Joanne Freeman, who has given us a new appreciation for what it means to be an American. Salud!
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."