Monday marked the 225th anniversary of the world’s most enlightened political document — the Constitution of the United States.
This document, which replaced the Articles of Confederation on Sept. 17, 1787, lives on as the blueprint for how a republic should work. It makes a grand statement, one that set course for a new direction in government.
Its seven articles and 27 amendments — the first 10, the Bill of Rights, were designed to spell out immunities of individual U.S. citizens and to close off the danger of tyranny from a central government — are what separate America from the rest of the world.
For some, these are just words on parchment. But for an American, they should be cherished. Because of these inspired words, Americans are free to speak words of their own without fear of government reprisal. We are free to pray, pontificate, protest, soothe, offend, encourage, criticize or just say nothing — whichever we choose.
As a gauge of the Constitution’s importance, you can look back to the first president, George Washington. Washington’s copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights — acquired by his Mount Vernon estate this summer — shows notes he made in that book. The notations, something fairly uncommon for Washington, show he looked at it closely as his guide for executing his duties as the nation’s chief executive.
We have to wonder whether many of today’s elected officials ever consult the document, or even have a copy in their offices. They would do well to follow Washington’s example.