The BEST

14882234_10210584184061922_2863139660667446312_oThe excitement was building to a fever pitch. The fans wore their school colors and yelled in unison with the cheerleaders. The bands beat out a foot stomping tempo that seemed to mirror the tension in the final moments of the competition. Surprisingly this was not an athletic contest but a meeting of junior engineers and software designers demonstrating their skills in building robots. Their machines had three minutes to perform their tasks and the stakes were high. The winners would advance to the state meet in December. All eyes were on the young men and women and their remarkable creations that had come to life to mimic human abilities.

The BEST robotics competition of San Antonio took place this past weekend with forty high schools and middle schools representing nearby cities and towns, some as far away as Laredo. The journey to the contest had begun many weeks ago when the students and their adult mentors received the details regarding the tasks which their robots must perform. With a minimum of materials the students went to work obtaining sponsors, building their machines, naming their companies, marketing their work, creating technical journals, designing team shirts, coding the software that would bring their robots to life, simplifying processes, creating displays and bonding in a spirit of team unity.

They burned the midnight oil and worked through weekends executing each of the phases of construction. Every member of the teams played an integral part in the many aspects of the project. Their robots would have to be as capable as farming machinery. They would pick corn, corral pigs, operate valves, harvest tomatoes and lettuce. For each task that they succeeded in performing points would accrue. It may have sounded easy on paper but in reality it took hours of trial and error, all of which had to be faithfully recorded in a scientific notebook filled with research, diagrams and technical explanations. In addition team members were responsible for being able to discuss every aspect of the work in interviews with the judges.

There was no consideration of age in the judging. The middle and high school students were alike in the expectations that they had to meet. It was David and Goliath as public, private and magnet high schools along with a few middle schools vied to be named the best of BEST, an organization dedicated to boosting engineering, science and technology. Each team had eight rounds in which to demonstrate their excellence in designing a robot capable of preforming each of the movements.

Early on one of the schools stood head and shoulders above the rest. The United Engineering and Technology Magnet High School from Laredo had a machine that was a thing of beauty. It maneuvered with ease and the points quickly mounted making the team virtually unstoppable. It was quite a story given that the students hail from a city beset with problems and most of them are economically disadvantaged minorities. All day long their outstanding abilities demonstrated the power of providing young people with opportunities to move beyond the limitations of poverty. Their design was brilliant and they had developed strategies for building points that had not occurred to any other team. In addition, they had brought a huge contingent of students, parents and teachers who cheered them with pride. Nobody was surprised when they took home multiple trophies and scholarships including the top prize of the day. They literally modeled the methods and spirit of winners who are bound to become tomorrow’s leaders.

The stunning victory of the event came in the form of a group of students from Smithson Valley Middle School who resembled children beside the other competitors. They had taken their work quite seriously, learning the computer language needed to program their robot only a few weeks ago. They had met after school and on weekends with their teacher and a number of parents who guided them but essentially left them on their own to either succeed or fail. They were an earnest lot who somehow didn’t seem to understand that they were not supposed to be in the same ranks with the more experienced high school students. Somehow they closed the gap and managed to be the second place team which allows them to move to the state meet along with five other high school groups. The key to their stunning win lay in their scientific research and the professional journal that three of the young women created to chronicle the journey that the team had made from the first day when they began to learn how to create a machine that would ultimately come to life. They also had achieved a commanding lead during the interviews intended to determine how much they really understood about the processes that they had used. It became fully apparent in those meetings that these were young students who had done all of the thinking and the work on their own.

I love that there are events in which young people are just as excited about academic pursuits as sports. We don’t often give enough credit to those who quietly invent the thoughts, processes, and materials that make our world better. We hold pep rallies for our heroes of the gridiron but often ignore the students who pioneer new ways of thinking in medicine, chemistry, physics. We forget to salute the extraordinary writers, actors, dancers and artists. It is not often that we encourage the historian or the child with a penchant for politics. We should be enthusiastically honoring each of the talents that we humans possess, not just the ones that have been the traditional focus of glory. Ours would be a wonderful world indeed if we were to eliminate derogatory terms like nerds, jocks, geeks, dumb blondes and such. Showcasing each student’s skills is a step in the right direction and hosting an event like the BEST robotics competition gets us just a bit closer to the perfection that we hope we may one day achieve. It is in these kinds of practical applications of knowledge that the most powerful learning takes place. We would do well to include more capstone projects and real life adventures in our curriculum. Our youngsters will no doubt surprise us when we do.   

The Horror

halloweenWhen I was kid Halloween was a rather simple event. I’d put a witch hat on my head or cut some holes in an old white sheet and masquerade as a ghost. My costumes were made from the cloth of my imagination and whatever I had on hand. My mother would save a brown paper bag from her grocery shopping that I used to hold the goodies that I collected from my neighbors. If I was feeling especially inspired I’d take the time to draw some jack-o-lanterns on it with my box of crayons. Mostly though I’d just grab a sack and head out to trick-or-treat with my friends. It was all so uncomplicated and innocent back then. We trusted everyone and were usually right in our belief that we would be safe. There were a few urban tales that warned us of razor blades and needles inserted into apples so I always threw such offerings into the trash but mostly there was little mischief other than our childish attempts to scare each other with ghost stories and such.

When my daughters were young the whole Halloween tradition became a bit more elaborate. I had to purchase costumes for them rather than using what we had around the house. Most of the time they chose the one size fits all flimsy outfits that came in a box along with a big plastic mask that engulfed their tiny faces. The costumes fit like sacks and were usually torn to shreds by the end of the evening because they were made from a substance that resembled paper. The masks were so hot that they usually ended up in the trick-or-treat bags that were a bit fancier than the grocery sacks of my youth. Fear of real horrors became all too real when the “Candyman” from Deer Park, Texas poisoned his son with a pixie stick one Halloween. After that many parents abandoned the old time honored ritual of gathering goodies from house to house. Churches, schools and neighbors began to hold Halloween parties instead. There were some years when hardly any kids came to my house.

Today Halloween is bigger than ever. In some ways it has become as important in the holiday annals as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Entire sections of stores are devoted to displays of decorations, costumes and an array of treats. The children who come to my door wear outfits worthy of a high budget movie. They are decked out in full makeup with wigs and intricately detailed clothing. They bear baskets and sturdy plastic containers rather than the paper bags of old. Sometimes they carry flashlights to help them navigate in the dark. The homes that they visit are decorated with lights, pumpkins, spiderwebs and inflated monsters. Eerie sounds echo across neighborhoods transforming them into spectacular and frightening happenings. The children come by the droves along with their parents who more often than not are also dressed in ornate designs.

This weekend there will no doubt be Halloween parties all across America and most of them will be for adults. I’m not quite sure when grownups laid claim to celebrations that had once been only for children but it is now big business. Perhaps our world has become so uncertain and complex that we enjoy playing make believe if only for a brief time. We dress up and poke fun at our society. We laugh and feel the freedom that we once knew as children. Halloween provides us with an opportunity to display our creativity and an excuse to just be silly like we were in the times before we had to deal with so many responsibilities and so much stress. With the craziness of the election season I suspect that this will be an especially “bigly” year for Halloween. There are so many people and ideas that we might poke a bit with our satire.

This year there are new wrinkles in the festivities. Some people worry that their costume choices might offend. We are told that we should be careful not to appropriate a culture that is not ours. I suspect that being a hobo like I once was might be considered a slam toward those who are poor. I’ve read that some colleges are advising students to avoid wearing sombreros or demonstrating a lack of empathy in choosing what they will wear. It is a new complication that is sure to create some storms of controversy and raise questions before the weekend is over.

It used to be that those who attended Catholic school had a singular advantage associated with Halloween because the following day was All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation that was traditionally a holiday in the parochial schools. Now the students simply go to Mass in the morning and carry on as usual for the remainder of the school day. There is no more holiday in honor of the beloved saints. Traditions are changing all the way around.

I still prefer the simpler ways of approaching Halloween. I have put a jack-o-lantern on my front porch and even have a few lights along the sidewalk but that is as far as I plan to go. I’ll stock up on chocolate bars and other sweet treats and spend a few hours enjoying the children who come to my door. Other than that Halloween will come and go much as it has for most of my life. It is a fun but minor celebration in my annual routines. I sometimes wear a special t-shirt with glittery pumpkins that I purchased at Walmart for five dollars one year just to get into the spirit of things and I almost always find a horror movie to watch, but mostly Halloween is a sign that my truly favorite time of year is near.

I suspect that for most of us nothing is going to be as scary as the coming election. We are all holding our breaths in anticipation of what is coming next. It’s probably good that there is a way to ease our tensions just a bit whether we join friends in ridiculous outfits, gather with laughing children or just shut ourselves away to escape into a world of zombies or haunted houses. Sometimes we’ve just got to get away and Halloween is the perfect vehicle to distract us from the terrors of reality. Here’s hoping that your own way of enjoying the day is “huge,’

Transformation

transformationsEllen was an exotic beauty with black hair and deep dark brown eyes that seemed to be flirtatious and mischievous even when she was engaged in a mundane conversation. In her younger days she boasted a perfect hour glass figure but even as she aged and carried extra weight she was still utterly attractive. Her mind was keen and few were ever able to outsmart her. When she smiled she warmed an entire room. People quite naturally loved her. She didn’t have to expend extra energy to entice them but she always did. She was known for her generous spirit and empathy, always the first not just to notice pain and suffering but to respond with kindness. She was a sprite, a free spirit undefined by societal norms. Her confidence was such that she would have treated a famous dignitary exactly the same way that she did a homeless soul. She was one of a kind, a rare individual so blessed with beauty and brains and a bold outlook on life that she stood out even in a crowded room.

Ellen was my mother and she was larger than life in every imaginable way. She was the rock on which the foundation of our family was built, particularly after our father died when she was only thirty years old and we were small children. The trauma of our daddy’s death marked the first time that I saw her flounder. It was frightening for me to watch her grief explode so publicly. For a time she appeared to be a stranger with a faraway look in her eyes. She was not present for anyone. We might have burned down the house and she would barely have noticed. A slow transformation was beginning inside her mind that would alter her. It was not of her own making. It was not who she really was. It was the product of a mental illness that would from time to time overtake her in ways that seemed to destroy her very essence.

At first we barely noticed what was happening. Somehow she willed herself to return to her normal state. She had important work to do. She was now the mother and the father in our family. She had to provide and nurture. She could ill afford to drown in her tears or spend much time in a sorrowful state. She donned a mask that announced to the world that she was back, her old self ready to tackle any challenges that came her way. For a time she did a remarkable job of convincing all of us that her heart was a bit dented but not badly damaged. Still there were signs of her slow deterioration that we did not see. We hardly noticed how easily her feelings were often hurt, something that had not been part of her personality in the past. She appeared to get sick more often, sometimes staying in bed for days. We would see signs that she had been crying but then she would smile to reassure us and we forgot to consider that she might still be in pain. She shouldered so much hurt and responsibility without ever speaking of it. Perhaps we all expected perfection when we should have known that she was only human.

Ellen attempted to be all things in all situations but the stress ate away at her. She was teaching school, attending college, paying bills, keeping the home in order, caring for her aging mother, and always being a kind of super mom. After ten years of courageous effort her facade cracked wide open and the bipolar disorder that had been smoldering inside her brain became full blown. Her transformation into the world of mental illness was complete and it was as frightening as anything she or we had ever experienced.

She closed the windows and the blinds and turned off the air conditioner even though it was the hottest part of the summer. She took to her bed and openly cried almost continuously. She whispered her fears which were paranoid to the extreme. She believed that our family was under attack from a nameless group bound to the idea of ruining us. She was certain that we would be put away into some jail without a trial. She worried that all of the food in her home had been poisoned. Her eyes were dull and darted around the room in fear. Her hands shook continuously and her breathing was labored. She would not eat and could not sleep. She was certain that she was going to die or that she may have already done so. Her dark and tiny world was filled with enemies and intrigue. She trusted no one. She was paralyzed in a state of panic from which she saw no escape. She had been transformed into a stranger who did not resemble my mother in any way.

I underwent my own transformation in that time. I had to vanquish my youth and accept responsibility for my mother and my younger brothers. I could no longer afford to be shy and backward. I had to quickly learn how to assert myself. I became a voice for our family. I assumed the mantle that had been thrust upon me. It felt uncomfortable and I disliked having to take control of the situation. It meant that I had to make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. I had no idea back then that this would become part of my destiny or that my mother would suffer from her disease for the rest of her life. Her illness would become the backdrop for our family for the next forty four years. It never went away and it was painful to watch.

There were moments when my charismatic mother reemerged in all of her glory and magnificence. Those were the best of times but they never lasted for long. Again and again the fearful broken woman would replace her and my brothers and I would battle to save her mind. We settled into a routine of vigilance that mostly worked but each time that we believed the impossible, namely that she was cured, we would be proven wrong. We learned that her illness was chronic and that it could be controlled but only so much. Medications would work for a time and then their effectiveness would lessen or they would produce serious side effects that precluded their use.

She gained weight from the chemicals coursing through her body. She felt fuzzy. It was not a state that she enjoyed. She would rebel from time to time, hiding her medications under sofas and beds, pretending to swallow them when they were tucked under her tongue. She argued that she did not need the treatments that we forced on her. Our relationship was often tense and confusing. She was supposed to be the beloved matriarch but she often felt like the child. None of us liked the situation but we understood what the consequences of ignoring our duties to her would be. We had seen what happened whenever we became complacent.

Somehow the transformation of my mother and our family had its positive effects as well. We became closer than we might have been. We celebrated and appreciated her moments of good health with more gusto than we might otherwise have done. We worked together and learned what is most important in life. We never took each other for granted. The curse of mental illness that had descended on our world turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It made us all better individuals. We learned to value people and to understand them. We became more observant and noticed when those around us were suffering. All in all we were much nicer than we had been before.

Mental illness stalks its victims with a vengeance but we learned that it need not win. Our mother’s life was more painful that it should have been but she managed to accomplish great things in spite of the disorder that lurked inside her brain. It slowed her down but it did not cripple her. It reshaped our family but not always in bad ways. Our transformation made us strong and resilient.

Ellen died at the age of eighty four. On her final days there was no sign of her mental illness. She was once again restored to the perfection of spirit that had so defined her. In her final transformation she was ready to meet God and reunite with our father. The circle was complete for her and for us.

Did They Know?

starchild-2001-space-odysseyOne of my all time favorite movies is 2001 A Space Odyssey. It is an enigmatic journey beginning with Neanderthal man realizing the destructive power of tools and ending with the rise of a fetus, a star child. It poses many questions about who we are as people and where we are going in the future. It is fitting that it proposes a child as our hope. Whenever I see a baby I find myself considering what magnificent gifts he/she might one day present to mankind. I wonder if some loving relatives saw the bright eyes of a Leonardo da Vinci in his innocent look when he was just a boy. Did they know that he was going to change the world?

There are many stories of omniscient mothers and grandmothers who predicted greatness in their young. Lyndon Johnson’s mother is supposed to have told everyone that he would one day be President of the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s grandmother insisted that he had been saved from death after a treacherous fall from a second story window because he was destined to do important work. Are these self fulfilling prophecies or is it really possible to indeed see something in the faces of our young that tells us that they are somehow gifted in ways that will change the world? Do we subconsciously train our little ones to follow a certain path or does it just happen with or without our help? These are questions that I have often considered but I know for certain that the smallest among us represent our greatest hope for tomorrow. For that reason we must cherish and develop each tiny person in every possible way.

Sadly there are too many children who suffer and even die from neglect, lack of resources and abuse. If we spent even a third of the time and money that we expend on entertainment to help create better lives for children everywhere many of the problems that plague the world would be eliminated. A child who grows up in a healthy and safe atmosphere of love is far more likely to fulfill his/her potential than one who does not have such opportunities.

Most of us work hard to provide our children with lives conducive to full development. As I attend events with my grandchildren I witness the caring attitudes of men and women who understand the impact that their concern will have on raising happy and confident youngsters. Such care is not limited to those with high incomes. Even without money a loving parent makes a difference in a child’s life. My own mother struggled to provide my brothers and me with the basics but above all we understood without question that she was our protector, advocate and the person who encouraged us to fulfill our destinies. There was no better cheerleader in our lives. It did not take money for her to let us know that we were important members of the world and that our opinions and contributions mattered. This made us strong and able to navigate problems because we knew that we were never alone.

It is well documented that much of the testing that our children undergo is experience driven. A child who has read or been read to is more likely to do well than one who has not been exposed to print matter. Those who travel and see many different places and hear many ideas are more likely to achieve. A child who lives an isolated existence in a stimulus deprived environment is at a grave disadvantage. Luckily there are ways to counteract such problems.

The KIPP Charter Schools place a high priority on exposing students to a variety of experiences. They take children on field trips and introduce them to cultural events and opportunities. It is not uncommon to see entire classes traveling to Washington D.C. or New York City, thus giving them insight into the world at large. These adventures make a tremendous difference in the lives of kids who might otherwise never see such things but they cost a great deal of money and all too often the funds are simply not available. I often think of how wonderful it would be if each of us decided to forgo at least one luxury and instead donate that money to an educational cause. Perhaps we should have a tip jar in which we place the coins that we might have spent on a latte or another new pair of shoes. At the end of the year we would have more than enough to have an impact on somebody’s life.

When my mother died she had a small amount of money in her bank account. It was a rather insignificant amount but my brothers and I decided to use it to fund a charitable act. A teacher friend was in the process of building a library for her English class and we were able to purchase a number of books for her project. I knew that my mother would have been ecstatic to learn that her humble offering had made such a grand difference for children who might otherwise have limited exposure to literature.

When I was teaching I learned soon enough just how many of my students had no form of reading material in their homes. There were no newspapers, magazines or books of any variety. This was not because their parents did not appreciate reading but because they had to limit their spending to essentials. They had to choose between providing basic needs and filling their homes with the volumes that so many of us take for granted.

In my own experience in the classroom I learned that my students truly enjoyed the mini-libraries that I often created for them. I found myself wishing that I might simply give away my books but I never had enough income to be so generous. I realized that my own daughters had lives filled with resources, lessons and opportunities that would rarely be available for my pupils. I saw the effects of their paucity and it was heartbreaking.

I recall taking a group to participate in an Academic Pentathlon competition. They were already nervous but when they drove through the wealthy neighborhood where the games were being held they became silent and I saw the sense of deprivation that they were feeling. Finally one of them declared that she was afraid to go into the school because she was so unlike the people who lived in that area. I gave the group a pep talk. I told them to walk in with their heads held high because we had prepared them for the tests that were to come. We had purchased beautiful team shirts for them to wear. Each of them had copies of the books and questions that might be asked. I insisted that they had nothing less than their wealthier counterparts.

As they walked in with their confidence renewed there were whispers from the other teams who were wondering from whence my students had come. “They look as though they are from a prep school someone shouted.” Smiles appeared on my kids’ faces. Their confidence went up several notches. They were winners that day and I suspect that they later parlayed that victory into their lives. Sometimes all it takes are a few gentle reminders that genius is possible in anyone for it to take hold. They were able to find the talents inside their souls and bring them to the surface.

Our future begins with the tiniest among us. It starts with healthy habits and care for expectant mothers. It continues with opportunities to enrich the minds and bodies of all of our children. There is no greater contribution that we might make to society. It is an investment in what is most important and it doesn’t take that much to become involved. Even the tiniest bit of help has the potential to change a life. Instead of relying on the government to make a difference it’s time that we all found ways to support the youngest among us. We will all win.

His Story

US_$10_Series_2003_obverse.jpgHe was a small man with a gigantic intellect. Nothing about his background might have indicated the greatness that he would achieve. He was born out of wedlock on an island in the West Indies at a time when illegitimacy was considered a curse. By the age of thirteen he was an orphan who so impressed a local benefactor that he was sent to New York to further his education. He eventually graduated from King’s College and became an up and coming lawyer. Without any wealth or influence he used his genius to be one of the driving forces behind the American Revolution and the development of the Constitution of the United States of America.  He earned the undying respect and trust of George Washington and became his personal aide during the war and the first Secretary of Commerce in the early years of the nation. Certain tragic flaws led to scandal, blackmail and ultimately his death in a duel. He has been the often forgotten Founding Father known best as the face on the ten dollar bill and the man shot and killed by Aaron Burr. In truth he is the person most responsible for creating the economic foundations of the country and in many ways he is perhaps the most quintessential representative of the American citizen. His name is Alexander Hamilton.

A few years back I became fascinated by Alexander Hamilton after reading a biography by Ron Chernow that my husband had given to me for Christmas. I identified with the sheer humanity of his story. He was someone who overcame tremendous deficits through sheer will and talent. He was a man who was unafraid to fight for what he believed to be right and just and yet he was also guilty of harboring resentments and falling prey to dishonest flattery. He was supremely confident in some situations and unsure of himself in others. He was a man filled with contradictions who often allowed his unbridled ego to determine his fate. He reminded me of so many highly gifted individuals who in spite of their multiplicity of talent too often become embroiled in personal battles that destroy them. Ultimately each and everyone of us struggle with inner demons.

It seems that while I was learning about Alexander Hamilton and celebrating his complexity there was someone else coming to the same conclusions as mine. In a stroke of genius Lin-Manuel Miranda created a brilliant musical to introduce the world to this fascinating character. Mixing history with modern day rap Miranda has created a stunning chronicle of the life and times of our nation’s earliest beginnings through the story of one of its most interesting founders. Hamilton represents the nitty gritty of America from his humble birth to his tragic downfall and Miranda has captured the sheer irony of Hamilton’s life in music that brings our forefathers into the modern world with all of their glory and baggage. The play has garnered well earned critical acclaim, honors and nightly packed houses. Best of all it has brought renewed interest in Hamilton and his costars in the unfolding of America’s story.

My dream is to one day see this musical on Broadway but that will have to wait until the tickets become more affordable for an average Josephine like me. Still I would love nothing more than to travel to all of the places that served as a backdrop to Hamilton’s life and then attend a showing of the play as the grand finale to my journey back through time. I think that it would prove to be the perfect vacation. My all time favorite trips have been educational in nature and this one would be beyond incredible. Judging from the ticket calendars for Hamilton that I have studied it will be several years before I will be able to fulfill my fantasy but in the meantime it will be a fun excursion to plan.

There are many aspects of Alexander Hamilton that remind me of my own grandfather. For all intents and purposes he too was an orphan. His mother died when was only three days old and his father gave him away to a woman that he lovingly called his grandmother. No documentation confirms who his relatives actually were. It is as though he simply sprang spontaneously from the earth. When he was only thirteen the woman who had raised him died leaving him on his own. He chose an uncle to oversee his small income and even stayed for a time with his father but it was not long before he was traveling across America alone and in search of work. He used his wits and determination to survive.

Grandpa was a brilliant man who in many ways was self taught. He loved this country and exercised his right to a voice in government by regularly voting well into his one hundredth eighth year of life. Like Alexander Hamilton he refused to allow his humble birth to dictate the direction of his life. He used all available opportunities to keep himself and his family afloat even in the most difficult times. He witnessed more than one economic depression, five different wars, and every presidential race from 1878 until his death in the mid nineteen eighties. Through it all he was an optimist who believed that each passing year of his life was just a bit better than his last.

My grandfather saw our human progress as a sign that the government was working just as it had been intended. He kept the faith in America’s democracy until the very day that he died. One of his last big reads was a biography of Thomas Jefferson which he was able to discuss at length just after he turned one hundred eight. He believed that his longevity and his gifts of freedom were great treasures. He left this world with not a penny to his name but he would have insisted that he was rich. He loved his country as much as he had his family. He had weathered a lifetime of tragedy and yet he was a happy man who thought himself blessed simply for living in a place that seemed to be ever improving. His take on history was that the United States of America was slowly but surely moving forward and that we all benefit from its continual search for justice and freedom.

Right now we are in a kind of valley of fear and criticism with regard to our country. We act as though these are somehow the worst of times and yet our history demonstrates that we have been in similar circumstances before. We find the divisiveness between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to be deplorable and we are shocked that they won’t even shake hands. We forget that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were such political rivals and enemies that they ended up on a field in New Jersey to settle their differences with pistols. Hamilton was mortally wounded and Burr who had been the Vice President of the United States was charged with murder and thought to be a villain for all time. Somehow our country moved beyond such a shocking turn of events just as it always seems to do.

My grandfather was able to use the breadth of his experience to see that we may falter and even lose our momentum but we always find our way back. He realized that great men like Alexander Hamilton understood the nature of humans even when they ignored their own flaws. Together individuals from different backgrounds and alternative points of view developed a government that was capable of sustaining itself and correcting its mistakes. Over two hundred years later it’s still here and not even the bombast and prevarication will tear it down as long as we the people cherish it and continue to work to make things right just as Hamilton did so long ago. He lived and died just as we all do but what a story he left behind.