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Honoring our nation’s foundation

Today we honor our Constitution and the foundation of our society. It’s an important day, indeed.

Signed on Sept. 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, that document gave power, structure and form to the national system of government that began with the U.S. Declaration of Independence 11 years before.

There to reform the Articles of Confederation, this intelligent faction for the United States of America came up with what should be a familiar grouping of words: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, 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.”

We continue to thank God for that specific group of men who were present to create such a document.

Our Constitution — not a code, not a formula — is the embodiment of a spirit, open to interpretation but never to be broken so long as there are people with knowledge and an interest in free and open society still alive in the nation.

And as we continue in a period of division, right from left, Republican from Democrat, the United States of America was founded on principles that unite us in our hearts.

The Constitution enables a nation to be ruled without subject to harsh dictatorship, guided without the use of force. That document gave us the basic freedom to agree or disagree, to share ideas and ideals or reject them, without fear of retaliation or imprisonment.

Locally, Historic Fort Steuben is commemorating that event by presenting its annual Constitution exhibit sponsored by the Historic Fort Steuben and the Fort Steuben Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. “The Bill of Rights & You,” created by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service, will be on display as part of the Celebrate the Constitution program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays until Saturday at the fort.

The exhibit highlights the history of America’s founding document and the Bill of Rights, added to the Constitution in 1791 as the first 10 amendments, which protects rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to freely practice religion.

Visitors also will have an opportunity to sign a replica of the Constitution and watch a movie depicting the proceedings of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

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