Do you know them, have you read them?

On a recent adventure to a community service building I glimpsed over and noticed an arrangement on the wall.  This arrangement was made possible by the generosity of June Griffin back in 2012. What was inside the arrangement caused me to stop.  Three documents were contained behind the glass. Copies of The Ten Commandments, The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights.

The Ten Commandments, Declaration of Independence, and The Bill of Rightsimg_50912.jpg

What stopped me, as an United States Citizen by birth, I could not recall ever reading fully the last two documents.  The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights are certainly known to me.  Their names are mentioned regularly and portions of each document have been quoted and discussed during many of my years.  But reading them through completely and taking the time to understand them was something I had never done.  Is that wrong?  I felt like it was. 

My mother and father took on the task of learning both sides of my family’s geneological history in the early 2000’s.  The information found displayed that my relatives came into this new land in the mid to late 1700’s stopping off between New York and down to Virginia.  Immigrants looking for a new start.  A chance to have a better life, or at least a different life than they already knew.  Coming from countries such as England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany to name only a few.  What would they think of my lack of reading these documents completely?  

Am I making too much of an issue?  It happens. I have been known to beat myself up over silly things. Or is this something that all citizens should have read and fully understand?

Being raised in a strong Christian home the Ten Commandments are Bible verses were learned from the time I could write my name. They are a part of something near and dear to me, and I can honestly say I do my best to follow.

The Declaration of Indepenence was something we learned in Elementary school.  I recall the teacher discussing the background and the purpose.  I have heard and read stories of the individuals who worked on the creation of the document and those that risked so much by writing their signature. Fifty-six men placed their fates and those of their families on the line.  This document romantically stated the fight for independence.  So this night I stopped and read word for word.  It is a very well written document. One that I can imagine brought a tear to many eyes back when they were fighting to be free, just as it did me in that hallway on that night.

The Bill of Rights was a document that I recall more from Saturday mornings ‘Knowledge is Power’ cartoons, than from ever discussing in school.  If you haven’t noticed by now, school was not always my focal point.  Thankfully it was corrected during college. Over the years, there have been many conversations about parts of the document, and certainly situations when a better understanding about an interpretation of the meaning has taken place. The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Unites States Constitution.  They were first presented back in 1789 and over the course of two years ratified by Congress.  The creation of the United States Constitution was not an easy task.  With the various delegates from the thirteen soverign states having worked through all their differences in 1788 to finaly ratify the Constitution, additional language needed to be included by the time The Bill of Rights was brought forward.  This language was to address Anti-Federalists, provide specific guarantess of personal freedoms and rights, clearly state limitations on the governments’s power, and to clearly determine the power of the States for matters not specifically delegated previously. The Bill of Rights is a very powerful document.  So as before, on this night was read word for word.

Maybe I was wrong to have never read them through completely.  Now I am not.  You cannot read any of these documents without feeling emotions.  It can take you back into the time and place when those who drafted the documents selected each word.  That is what reading them did for me.  If I am crazy to say I felt their patriotism after reading them, then call me crazy. There is a lot of power in every word!  If you are like myself and have not read completely, or if it has been a while, I challenge you to take the time and read them through again.  Search out other supporting articles and documents that can aid your understanding. You will be very glad you did.

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