What Constitution Day means to me
Last week my friends and I had the pleasure of standing in front of our courthouse and publicly reading the Constitution. In this way, my Young Americans for Freedom chapter honored the U.S. Constitution which was signed on September 17, 1787, 228 years ago.
We gathered together beside the statue of Patrick Henry and took turns reading every article, section, and amendment from pocket Constitutions donated by the National Archives in Morrow. We saw attorneys, police officers, and jurors come and go. We sweated, we stumbled over unfamiliar words, and our tummies growled. For just over an hour, we competed with the noise of lunch hour traffic on the square.
Even noisy mufflers could not compete with the volume of words written in the Constitution. Some of us had not heard the words before while others had studied them thoroughly. We spoke with different accents, some from here and some from halfway around the world. But we spoke the same language of freedom our founding fathers wrote as they labored over the words and phrases which remain the foundation of our country.
Oddly enough, not all our founders agreed with the formation of the Constitution. Patrick Henry refused to attend the Constitutional convention and was an outspoken critic. Certain individual rights he held dear were left out: freedoms of speech, press, religion, the right to bear arms, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure are just some of the issues. Patrick Henry’s objections, along with other Anti-Federalists’, inspired the Bill of Rights.
Patrick Henry feared the Constitution would create a large, centralized government with power concentrated in the hands of a few. Whether or not you feel this is currently the case, widespread citizen participation prevents abuses of power. We cannot stand by while our rights are chipped away, but in order to know what our rights are, we must be familiar with our Constitution. By regularly exercising our rights, we keep our government in check.
Last summer, six of us local students attended the National YAF Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, and learned about exercising our rights and responsibilities. We read about uprisings and protests in Europe during World War II, but few ended well. In contrast, our assembly positively changed each one of us who read the Constitution. Reading aloud on the square in front of the courthouse made me proud to subscribe to the Constitution of the United States.
Tommy Dorminy leads the Soli Deo Gloria Home Education Foundation chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, which is sponsored by John Dorminy.