The issue: Local essay contest offers an opportunity to reflect on this all-important document
The preamble of the Constitution of the United States is familiar to all Americans.
However, the famous words are tucked mostly away in a dusty recess of memory, until upon hearing “We the People …” when the rest of it comes flooding back, “… of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.”
TO BRING THE historic document to the forefront on its 226th anniversary, We the People of Davis and two local businesses — The Avid Reader and The Davis Enterprise — are sponsoring the Davis Constitution Day Essay Contest. Entries, which may be up to 500 words long, should answer the question “How Does the U.S. Constitution Affect My Life?” Submissions are due Friday, Sept. 13, at 5 p.m. at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St.
The Constitution and its seven articles — the first three of which establish the legislative, executive and judicial branches — were signed by representatives from 12 states and ratified on Sept. 17, 1787 (the other famous U.S. document was signed in 1776). The Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments — was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. Since its inception, the Constitution has been open to amendments and interpretation. Its ability to bend as it helped shaped a nation is testimony the foresight of its authors.
While the articles set up the foundation for government, many Americans think of the Bill of Rights when asked about the Constitution: freedom of religion, speech and the press; the right to assemble peaceably, petition the government, keep and bear arms; to avoid unreasonable searches and seizures or incriminating oneself.
Freedom of the press is key for journalism, but as members of the Fourth Estate, journalists are charged to be watchdogs, ensuring that all aspects of the Constitution are being carried out to the benefit of all. Several times in history, newspapers have broken a news story exposing the back-door dealings of the government, helping change the course of American politics. They are not moments to rejoice but times to reflect on the system and see what needs to be amended for future generations.
MORE THAN 200 years ago, the Founding Fathers set the groundwork for America. Now, it’s up to us — we, the people — to ensure our “more perfect Union.”