The Past Is Present: Washington and Our American Values

snapseed-1In my experience, President’s Day has historically been just a 3-day weekend. A time to take an adventure with my significant other (and now family of four), to ski slopes, sunnier climates, or a road trip.  The must haves being: my favorite pair of jeans, comfy sneakers, my latest purse, and my beloved camera.

After seeing “Hamilton The Musical” I became obsessed with the story of our Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and the people who surrounded them. Their youth, their humanity, their passion, the musical captured it in a way that my history books never could. I connected with the strong female leads and their fight for equality.  My chest burned with pride at each mention of the immigrant story.  Like most play attendees, I furiously Googled answers to my many questions after the play. One burning question being the role of George Washington, Hamilton, and other key figures on the topic of tolerance.

In the 1700’s George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Locke preached more tolerance than many of our politicians do now.

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”
– George Washington

When I came down from my 5 month high, I needed more. More than the incredible hip-hop and diverse cast, I needed the story of the slaves. Not to mention, the Muslims that supported the founding of the United States. Their story spanned from the Muslim slaves that fought in major battles to the alliance with Morroco that brought George Washington much-needed trade and supplies.

Luckily there are several articles highlighting these Facts. So this year, Presidents’ Day still means sneakers, jeans, and an adventure with my family, but it’s with a renewed sense of passion to spend the day exploring history.

Peace and Salam,

Natasha Kazi

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