I saw the movie 1776 on a school field trip, in one of those single-screen theaters that used to exist before the invasion of the multiplex.
At the time, I didn't know it started as a Broadway musical. And while I was an American history buff, the Colonial period was not my favorite.
Okay, maybe 1776 wasn't a totally accurate account of the writing of the Declaration of Independence, but the music and the story were captivating.
The score, by Sherman Edwards, was by turns playful ("Sit down John,") lyrical ("He Plays the Violin") and haunting ("Molasses to Rum").
And Peter Stone's book made the men who assembled in Philadelphia in 1776 seem so distinct and memorable. It made history very entertaining.
I bought the soundtrack, which I still have in my record collection. (Yes, it was that long ago and yes, I still have my records.) While I haven't listened to it or seen the movie in ages, the experience has stayed with me.
It's amazing to think about how much has changed since the movie came out in 1972. Sandra Day O'Connor was serving in the Arizona Senate and Barack Obama was 11 years old. I'm not sure I'd ever seen a musical on stage, let alone on Broadway.
Here's something else that I couldn't have imagined along with a woman on the Supreme Court, an African-American in the White House and my first Broadway show.
In August, a Kansas City company called Musical Theater Heritage is presenting the first a all-female production of 1776.
To me, it's a reminder that U.S. history has been about breaking barriers, taking risks, expanding equality and creating opportunity, in the arts and elsewhere.
Happy Independence Day!