Friday, September 21, 2018
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Happy Fourth of July

Ever since I moved from Crested Butte to Crested Butte South almost three years ago, I’ve taken up listening to books on tape on a regular basis. I listen to all kinds of things, from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat to Janet Evanovich’s murder mysteries. Recently, I finished up John Adams from David McCullough about the American Revolution, a marathon of CDs that racked me up late fees at the library that I’m too scared to check on.
The book, which was recently made into a mini-series on HBO, is an excellent one. Through President Adam’s correspondence (and that of those around him), McCullough reconstructs a portrait of Adams, the nation’s second president and one of the forces behind the Revolution.
The book opens with Adams’ birth in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1735, and then covers his college career at Harvard, his service to the Continental Congress, his diplomatic service in the Netherlands, Britain and France, his return to the United States, his largely unhappy tenure as George Washington’s vice-president, his own presidency, retirement, and finally his death at age 90 on July 4, 1826.
Both Adams and President Thomas Jefferson died that day—exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was celebrated, causing many newspaper editors to muse about God’s hand in the founding of this nation.
McCullough’s book did what no history lesson had yet accomplished for me—that is, make the American Revolution, and the people who fought it, come alive. He laid out why Adams believed what he did and why he constantly advocated for an empire of laws, not of men.
Through the weeks of listening to this book, I gathered some lessons that I’ll pass on here.
—The American people are a good and generous people dedicated to political and religious freedom.
—Great leaders are made even greater through the support of their family.
—Even presidents get nervous about speeches.
—Failure, even the colossal variety, doesn’t mean a career is over.
—Popularity doesn’t mean you’re an effective leader. In some cases, being unpopular indicates you’re doing the right thing.
—Sometimes, it’s okay to call it a day, rather than beating your head against a wall.
—Political enemies can still be friends, eventually.
—Even smart, stubborn people aren’t always right.
—Books, learning and languages are to be treasured above all other possessions.
—Fresh air is good for your brain and your soul.
 —Despite your best intentions, children will choose their own path, for better or worse.
—Wise people consider both sides of an issue, make a decision and stand behind it.
Of course, there are many more lessons in that book—but I’ll leave you to discover those on your own.
It’s been 232 years since Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and 182 years since Adams’ death, but his views, and those of the founders of the United States, are still pertinent. He believed at this country’s birth that it would go on to become the greatest nation on earth—it’s up to each of us to continue to prove him right.
—Aleesha Towns

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