It was the Constitution that made the War for Independence a Revolution ~ Celebrate Constitution Day and Freedom Week
Our nation is about to celebrate a very important birthday on September 17th. On September 17th many years ago, 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the greatest protection of life, liberty, and property the world has ever seen – the U.S. Constitution. It is altogether appropriate that we stop and reflect on this amazing document and what it means to us as Americans.
That is why I sponsored legislation that passed our General Assembly in 2018 designating the week of September 17th as “Celebrate Freedom Week” in Tennessee public schools. We have had a lot of support across the state for this week. Governor Bill Lee has issued a Proclamation the past two years declaring the week of September 21st as Freedom Week. He encourages citizens across the state to educate themselves and observe this holiday during this time. It is important to educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of this country and the values upon which it was founded. This initiative emphasizes the teaching of the country’s origins with an emphasis on the founding documents, including the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Some forget that the ideas of liberty and freedom our founding fathers committed to in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 took eleven years to manifest. Victories on battlefields during the Revolutionary War paved the way for freedom, but a great deal of work was yet to be done. Serving in the General Assembly, I can very well imagine the debate that ensued during that time. However, despite all of the differing opinions, in the end unity among the states was established as all the different factions came to a consensus and the Constitution was ratified. It is important to remember that without it, the War for Independence could have very easily been just another war for power and control. It was the principles of representative democracy — as outlined in the Constitution — that made the war a revolution.
You have to stop and wonder how our founding fathers over 200 years ago could put into place a Constitution which could mete out such complex 21st century problems like the federal government’s rules on power plant emissions at a time before the lightbulb was invented. That is the wisdom of this document. It addressed the challenges of our newly formed nation and yet the language was broad enough to accommodate that of future generations. The words preserved in the Constitution have seen the unimaginable: foreign and domestic wars, social upheavals, economic times both good and bad, terrorist attacks and unprecedented changes in our country’s people, businesses, environment and technology. Yet they have all been debated and decided within the context of the Constitution. It also has stood the test of time due to the impeccable process in place in which amendments have been added after much forethought and scrutiny are given.
In George Washington’s farewell speech, he referenced the Constitution saying, “The Constitution and the government it establishes has a just claim to [our] confidence and respect because it is the offspring of our choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers uniting security with energy, and containing, within itself, a provision for its own amendment.”
He was right! This revolution was not defined by fighting alone, but the ideas that united America and proved to the world that democracy will always be worth fighting for. Yes, we need to celebrate our Constitution’s birthday and pass along its importance to our children and grandchildren who will be the next guarantors of democracy, freedom, and liberty.