On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers of the United States signed the U.S. Constitution. The holiday was originally “I Am an American Day” and was observed on the third Sunday in May, first established as a federal holiday in 1940. Twelve years later in 1952, it was changed to September 17 and renamed “Constitution Day” to coincide with the day the U.S. Constitution was originally signed. More recently, the holiday was again renamed in 2004 to “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.”
We remember this day by reading and studying the U.S. Constitution and pondering its meaning. In reading its words, we learn the profoundness of the timeless wisdom contained within. This revolutionary document was produced by those who had studied the errors of governmental design throughout human history and sought to establish a new form of government which rectified many of the past issues. The separation of powers between three branches of government was ingenious, combining the strengths of different systems and balancing out the weaknesses. The Founding Fathers devised a system of constitutional republicanism which sought to have representative government without falling into the same traps presented by the tyranny of the majority which are the downfall of democracies.
The full text of the U.S. Constitution can be read here. It first describes the system of government, various responsibilities, and how to carry them out. The necessary requirements of adding amendments to the document are also detailed. Then, the various amendments which have been added are listed. These describe the restrictions placed upon a just government which has the support of the people. Failing to abide by these amendments by making laws or taking actions which contradict them is akin to forfeiting the right to govern, and necessitate that government officials guilty of enacting such laws or engaging in such actions be removed.
Of particular importance in the U.S. Constitution are the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” These two amendments being first and second is significant, as the Founding Fathers understood that conventional weapons are the enforcement mechanism of civil liberties, and freedom of speech would be pointless to those unprepared to defend it. As the saying goes, “the Second protects the First.”
Looking back throughout history, I find I certainly cannot deny the truth of this wisdom. That is why I am proud to have trained with and carried a weapon from a young age, starting with learning how to use a knife and my bare hands when I was a child, to learning how to use and carry a gun responsibly now. I love learning about weapons and how to use them, both practical applications for the modern era; and historical weapons no longer in common use. Being armed and responsible is one way we can all make society a safer place and honor the wisdom granted to us by those who came before.
I hope everyone has a great weekend, and happy Constitution Day! If you have the time, I would recommend taking a minute to read through the U.S. Constitution, whether you are an American or not. What do the words mean to you? What lessons can be learned? What are the most important parts? Feel free to share your thoughts.
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