Constitution is ours to protect
June 29, 2007
It’s hard for me to grasp the fact that our nation’s bicentennial July Fourth celebration took place more than 30 years ago. Like the centennial of our community, it had a special flair, a special flavor; it was not just another July Fourth to be celebrated in the usual manner. I believe some of this may have revolved around my being 20 years old, but I know there was more to it than that.
Here we stand on another anniversary of the birth of the United States, the 231st, and, as it ought to be every year, this is not a bad time to do a mood check. How are we doing as keepers of the vision? Do the founding principles that led to the War of Independence still hold true?
There was as yet no Constitution; that document was birthed in the events of July 1776. How many of us even know the Constitution to the extent we ought? If we don’t know it, how can we expect to guarantee its protection? I have to plead myself as uninformed as any, to my shame. To my shame, because when military officers, of which I am an honorably discharged one, are commissioned, they pledge to protect the Constitution. That, rather than any person, is where their loyalty is promised.
Are we, as many of the eastern Colonies envisioned, a haven for the dispossessed, a refuge for the man or woman who seeks freedom from political, religious or economic tyranny? Or do we stand in danger of becoming judge and jury when a law-abiding citizen from some other country comes here in hope of a decent job, a democratic government, a place where he or she can ground his dreams? It doesn’t cut it, with me, to argue against immigration by stating that felons have immigrated. Not all felons are foreign born, so that argument springs from prejudice, not logic.
Are we holding our political leaders accountable, and doing all we can to prevent the creating of dynasties by a wealthy elite, or do we turn a blind eye to the advancement of power groups and the fueling of what President Eisenhower warned us of as the “military industrial complex?” Yes, that phrase came from one of our greatest World War II generals, and a man whom I believe truly stood in a line of heroes as leaders.
We can’t allow cynicism to paralyze us, nor can we allow cynical self-interest groups to take over the leadership of our nation. Every fall, when I have the pleasure of teaching a college class in logic, we spend a lot of the term on the fallacies found in that branch of philosophy. It would behoove us all to refresh our memories on what those fallacies are.
I do believe one thing, firmly and completely. The people who wrote the Declaration of Independence did not envision a nation of Pollyannas who walk blindly into “everything will be all right,” nor a nation of “me first, and as long as I get mine, everything is cool.” How are we honoring the freedom and opportunity they desired to hand to us?