Happy Constitution Day! Here is the transcript of the speech I gave locally in honor of the most amazing document ever written. Take a minute today to appreciate it!
My name is Summer Lane. I’m a writer, and I love my country and the Constitution. I want to tell you today why I love the Constitution, and why I, as a young person, care about what it represents.
As you know, last Tuesday was 9/11. An acquaintance of mine, let’s call him Joe, started talking about the phrase, God Bless America. He told me that it was an ignorant phrase, and that it was offensive to say something like that. I asked him why. He said it made it seem like the United States was better than all of the other nations in the world, that it was a prideful statement.
Number one, the United States is the greatest nation on earth. And number two, there is nothing offensive with asking for God’s blessing. Without God’s blessing, we wouldn’t have the Constitution, and we would be just like every other country on the face of the earth: average.
But we are not average, because we are free.
My friend Joe went on to argue that it was wrong to talk about God publically because the United States was founded on secular principles, and religion had no place in our country. Now, if you and I know anything about American History, we know that the United States was founded on strong religious principles. Secular principles? Where did that come from? The pilgrims fled Europe for the express purpose of being able to worship God freely. In the Mayflower Compact they say that they came for the Glory of God, and the advancements of the Christian faith.
26 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence studied at schools that trained ministers to go out into the field and preach the gospel of Christ. It’s not a secret that our Founders were strongly religious men who prayed often, and over and over again made reference to God and acknowledged his supreme authority.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the most well-known Founding Fathers, is often said in textbooks and in the popular media to have been a Unitarian, which is basically someone who believes that there is a God somewhere, but he doesn’t really pay attention to the affairs of men. This is not true. Benjamin Franklin spent a lot of time in prayer, and during the Constitutional Convention of 1777, when the delegates were having an intense argument, he begged them to stop and ask God for guidance.
“I have lived, sir, a long time,” he said, “and the longer I live, the more convincing the proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
You see, the Founding Fathers realized that the only way that they were going to successfully build a free country was to rely on the help of God. Man alone couldn’t handle it. In fact, it was George Washington who said, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
These godly men created the Constitution because God blessed them with the wisdom to do so – wisdom that they had prayed for. We are a free nation because of this. As you all know, the Constitution protects our basic rights as citizens. And it is the only document in the world that tells the government what not to do, and leaves the people completely alone.
The Constitution has saved us time and time again from total destruction. For example, during World War II, the Japanese government had a plan to send 1 million troops on foot into the United States. They were told to slaughter everybody and anything in their path. This million man army would have come from the citizenry, because at that time in Japan, if you lived and breathed, you were a soldier whether you liked it or not.
The Japanese government decided not to send those million troops into America – where they most likely would have entered on the West Coast, all the way from California to Washington – because they knew that the American citizens had the right to bear arms. At that time, most of the people in the United States owned a gun and would have fought back against the Japanese invasion in their own homes.
The Second Amendment saved us from Japanese invasion, therefore the Constitution saved us.
There have been instances, though, when people in government have tried to overstep the boundaries of the Constitution. During the late 1790s, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed. What this did was forbid Roman Catholics from immigrating into the United States. Today, that sounds incredibly stupid, but at the time, Americans had just fled the religious theocracy of Europe, where many Christians had been burned at the stake, so limiting the influx of Catholics “seemed” like the right thing to do. But what it really did was limit the amount of people who could come safely to America.
The second part of the act was the Sedition Act, which made it illegal for newspapers or private citizens to say anything negative about the Federal Government. People were thrown in prison, especially people who wrote for the newspaper, if they contradicted anything the government did or said.
Obviously that’s a blatant violation of our First Amendment right: the right to free speech. But this happened only twenty years after the Constitution was actually written! Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were horrified and tried to get Congress to repeal the acts, but they would not budge. So, they appealed to the people. The people voted their representatives out of office the next year, and the new delegates repealed the acts and freedom was restored.
What does that tell us? It tells us that the Constitution is only as powerful as the will of the people. Words mean nothing without the strength to back them up. Today, too many of our constitutional rights are threatened because not enough people care enough to stand up and fight. They assume that the United States has always gotten through tough spots, and it will survive. But I have news for you, if you don’t do anything to protect the Constitution, it will be meaningless. People will walk all over it.
As a 19-year-old living in 2012, I look around and I can tell you that the youth of America are some of the most irresponsible when it comes to protecting our country and preserving our freedoms. My friend Joe had gone to school all his life, and he knew absolutely nothing about American History. He believes that saying God’s name is an offensive statement! And there are so many young people like him. Kids who don’t know anything about our past, therefore they are completely unprepared to deal with problems in the present or future. Kids who have not yet had to do the hard thing and stand up for their freedoms, like the generation who fought in World War II, or the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, or the soldiers that fight today in the Middle East. The Youth today have no appreciation for this freedom because they have not experienced the hardship, and what’s worse, they don’t know anything about the Constitution, so they cannot protect it.
So it’s up to us to educate people about the Constitution, the ultimate safeguard of our liberty. It’s not outdated – it’s timeless. It’s not restricting – it’s empowering. But you have to do more than stand on a street corner and hand out copies of the Constitution. You have to talk to people, and you have to show them.
I am so thankful for the Constitution. As a 19-year-old Home School graduate, I appreciate the fact that it allows me to be a Christian. It allows me to express myself creatively as a writer without fear of censorship. It allows me to walk down the street and discuss political affairs with my grandpa because we have the right to free speech. God has blessed America in so many ways.
We have to remember what Ronald Reagan said:
“If ever we forget that we are one nation under God, we will be a nation gone under.”