Today is Constitution Day. How will you celebrate? How will you mark the occasion?
On Sept. 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention, meeting in Philadelphia for four months, agreed on the final draft of this special, inspired document and submitted to the several states for ratification.
That was 220 years ago.
It was ratified June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire approved it as the ninth state. Congress, acting under the Articles of Confederation, declared the Constitution the law of the land March 4, 1789.
By general assent and resolution of the Congress, Sept. 17 has been designated as Constitution Day ever since – designated, but not necessarily acknowledged or observed.
In the 21st century, we celebrate many holidays in America – Independence Day, presidential birthdays, Veterans Day, Memorial Day. Yet, no one even acknowledges Constitution Day anymore. That's tragic.
America has forgotten the two concepts that made her special as a nation – two unique factors that set her apart from the world from the start.
First, the Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution that strictly limited the role of the federal government in the lives of Americans. The idea that Washington had some role in education, redistribution of wealth, setting minimum wage requirements, nationalizing millions of acres of land, taxing income and subsidizing government-approved artists would have been anathema to the men who fought so valiantly for freedom against an overreaching foreign tyranny – if they could have even imagined such abuses.
Secondly, the framers of that Constitution spoke eloquently about the fact that only a moral people – a nation of Godly people with common spiritual and social values – were capable of self-government. They could not have envisioned the depths of depravity, licentiousness and vice to which our society has fallen – yet they warned about it.
The "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States," painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1940. It depicts the signing of the U.S. Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa.
Our current debates about social and government policy seem disconnected from these two critical foundations of the American republic. Politicians will never solve the problems facing the country without acknowledging these two essential precepts.
In fact, I'll go further. Politicians will never solve our problems. Period. The more government tries to do, the worse things get.
And that's the beauty of the Constitution. It strictly limits what government can do. The trouble is that Americans have forgotten this. They've been dumbed-down by government schools and a government-media complex to believe that Uncle Sam is there to solve all their problems – from how much they get paid, to what they spend on health care, to how they should raise their own children.
We honor the flag in America, but not the Constitution. The flag is a mere symbol. The Constitution is the real thing. We should revere it, and, more importantly, live under it.
Why do we salute the flag and not the Constitution? The Constitution is every bit as symbolic as the flag, but it is much more – literally a guidepost to maintaining (or now, perhaps, to recovering) America's freedom. But it can only serve that function if we as a nation abide by it, pay heed to it, live by its code and its spirit.
Which symbol is really worth dying for? The flag is not my pick. After all, it is just a symbol. Symbols, of course, are important. But the Constitution is more. It is both symbol and substance. And its substance is being desecrated by some of those so piously concerned about the symbolic desecration of the flag.
A few years ago, a public opinion survey found that less than half of American adults would vote for the Constitution if it were on the ballot today. To that, I say, thank God there is no requirement for a referendum on the Constitution. Another poll showed close to half of Americans don't believe in the basic First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the press.
So, there you see it. The Constitution is being desecrated before our eyes. Here in one document are the guiding principles of our nation succinctly and clearly stated. The Constitution, coupled with the Declaration of Independence, represents more of a national creed than a simple founding document for the nation.
But skeptics are winning the day. Not even the Constitution holds us together as a people any longer. Maybe, instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag in school every day, that time could be better spent reading the Constitution.
Maybe next year, 2008, an election year, we will remember Constitution Day. That is, if there is still a Constitution to remember.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.