…What is it that makes our republic so unique in the annals of history? It is the three documents bequeathed to us by the founders of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. The founders of this nation had had their fill of autocratic government, unresponsive to the needs and wishes of its citizens. The Declaration of Independence spelled out that every person had the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable means that it cannot be taken away or abridged. It also declared that every man had the right to rebel against those rights being infringed. After a long and bitter campaign, the United States of America was born…
I pledge allegiance to the flag… What is a flag? Webster’s describes it as a piece of cloth or bunting with distinctive colors, patterns or symbolic devices used as a state symbol. In general it is an easily recognized symbol of a nation or group. Our flag has gone through many incarnations from the Grand Union flag of the revolution through an ever increasing number of stars as states were added to the Union. The flag of the United States, “Old Glory,” has flown proudly as the ensign on ships protecting our shipping from both the British, and Barbary pirates, in the 1800”s, from the crest of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima in World War II to the moon and beyond, as painted on Voyager, now on its way to the stars. Sadly, it has flown just as proudly at Wounded Knee, Manzanar, Mai Lai and Falluja.
Of the United States of America… What is the United States of America? It is a vast country, bounded on the East and West by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by Canada to the North and Mexico to the South, not to mention Alaska and Hawaii beyond those boundaries. It is the home of diverse people and cultures and has every extreme of climate and geology.
And to the Republic for which it stands… What is a Republic? “It is a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote (the electorate) and is exercised by representatives elected directly or indirectly by them and responsible to them.” What is it that makes our republic so unique in the annals of history? It is the three documents bequeathed to us by the founders of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. The founders of this nation had had their fill of autocratic government, unresponsive to the needs and wishes of its citizens. The Declaration of Independence spelled out that every person had the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable means that it cannot be taken away or abridged. It also declared that every man had the right to rebel against those rights being infringed. After a long and bitter campaign, the United States of America was born.
A Constitutional Convention was held in which the framework of government was hammered out When completed, it was a remarkably brief document consisting of seven articles which concisely spelled out the rights, privileges and obligations of all three branches of government and how each of the three should provide a system of checks and balances on the others so that no branch of the government could assume dictatorial power or infringe upon the rights of the people. Included was the process by which the Constitution could be amended. When the Constitutional Convention had drafted the document, almost as an afterthought it was decided that there should be an enumeration of simple acknowledged principles of the rights of man. The list of an American citizen’s rights was to be an absolute barrier to infringement by the government upon the citizenry. These were added as the first ten amendments to the Constitution and called the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the irrevocable law of the land, the nation’s ultimate guarantee of human dignity for every American.
One Nation, under God, indivisible…The First Amendment declares the separation of church and state, but nowhere does it state that belief in a Supreme Being is something that cannot be professed publicly or shown in public places. Neither does it ban prayer in public. Rather, the separation of church and state was to guard against the growth of any sort of ruling theocracy such as had been seen throughout much of human history, where the church ruled and dictated human behavior according to its particular beliefs. Indivisible because since the civil war, we have hung together as one nation despite our differences.
With Liberty and Justice for all. Those ten amendments are that guarantee. They cannot be abridged regardless of expediency. Nowhere else in the world does a citizen enjoy the enumerated rights and benefits guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The President takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, as do the Senate and the House. The Supreme Court is to enforce those Constitutional guarantees and see that neither of the other two branches of government violates or tries to set aside those rights. It is the duty of every citizen to see that the Constitution and Bill of Rights is protected. Without them, the United States of America is nothing special, just another big country ruling its people any way it sees fit. And the people become no more than servants of the state.
The Scottish Rite bookstore has an inexpensive ($5.00) volume entitled Anchor of Liberty which has the story of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, along with its text and commentaries. I would urge everyone to obtain a copy and study it carefully, then loan it around to others. It is only by knowledge that we can acquire wisdom and only by informed wisdom that we can maintain our unique and inalienable rights and freedoms.
Written by Stephen M. Osborn, and published at www.populistamerica.com. Stephen is a freelance writer living on Camano Island in the Pacific Northwest. He is an “Atomic Vet.” (Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll 1956, ) who has been very active working and writing for nuclear disarmament and world peace. He is a retired Fire Battalion Chief, lifelong sailor, writer, poet, philosopher, historian and former newspaper columnist. He welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org