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Weekly Column: Our Constitution

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Nearly 234 years ago, our nation’s Founders overcame months of debates, disagreements and multiple drafts to produce the greatest government in the world.  We have an extraordinary system, outlined in the Constitution, which promises Americans basic principles of individual rights and freedoms, limited government, rule of law, sovereignty, separation of powers and a representative government. 

The purpose of our Constitution is reflected in its Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Recognizing the magnitude of our Constitution, in 1956, Congress established Constitution Week starting each September 17 on the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.  Later, in 2004, Congress passed legislation establishing September 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.  This day is meant to commemorate the formation and signing of the Constitution and recognize all who have become citizens.  The law urges civil and educational authorities to make plans for the observance of this day and offer civics educational programs focusing on the meaning and importance of the Constitution. 

No matter our country’s current challenges, I remain deeply proud to be part of a nation rooted in self-governance that prioritizes life, liberty and freedom.  Voices are heard, inequities are challenged and necessary changes are made and continue to take shape. 

A quote from Benjamin Franklin, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, is a good illustration of the Founders’ recognition of the gravity of what they constructed and the vigilance needed to preserve the principles set forth in the Constitution.  After signing, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman outside the hall, “What have you given us?”  Franklin replied, “A republic madam, if you can keep it.” 

Appreciation for the price continuing to be paid for our freedom and consideration of diverging views remain important parts of maintaining our exceptional form of government.  Recognizing our rights as Americans and national principles is fundamental.  This Constitution Day and always, may our country remain a lasting symbol of freedom and hope, established in our exceptional Constitution.

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