By Diane Lehr
For The News Courier
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, 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.”
The public is invited to a celebration of the 226th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 19, at the Alabama Veterans Museum, 100 W. Pryor St. in Athens.
The event will feature patriotic music, a dessert reception, and a message about The U.S. Constitution from retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Chris Anzalone. The Athens-based John Wade Keyes Daughters of The American Revolution will host the celebration.
A prolific public speaker, Maj. Gen. Anzalone has a long military career. Prior to his retirement from the Air Force, he served as deputy for Test, Integration and Fielding, with Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville. Assigned to the Pentagon when 9/11 occurred, Anzalone went on to conduct joint planning for contingency operations supporting the Global War on Terrorism while serving on the Joint Staff.
The general was the joint planner for the Directorate for Operational Plans, assistant deputy director of Political-Military Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, and the executive officer to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy. Anzalone has served as vice commander of the Air Armament Center in Florida, and Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia. Since his retirement in 2009, he has served as president of L-3/Coleman Aerospace and is now an executive consultant in Huntsville.
The DAR has ceremoniously honored the Constitution each year since the organization petitioned Congress in 1955, to set aside Sept. 17-23, to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the resolution into public law on Aug. 2, 1956.
The DAR recognized that the framers of the Constitution were visionaries. There is little dispute that it was conceived by many of America’s greatest minds. The purpose of the document was to develop a government that would honor the freedom yearned for by the country’s citizens, while establishing a unified respect for the common good and constitutional law.
After the states won independence in the Revolutionary War, they faced all the problems of a developing government. Leading statesmen, such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, began to discuss the need to create a national government. This new government, “by the people” would have to be solid enough to gain the respect of the entire country. There was much debate, certain compromise, and many lengthy meetings. All through the summer, delegates from many of the original 13 independent states debated and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution.
Fifty-five delegates gathered together, and 39 delegates ultimately signed the Constitution of the United States of America. There were many differences in the delegates, and this fact contributed to the skill and ingenuity brought forth within the historic document.
Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was 81, while Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was only 26. Among the delegates were soldiers, planters, educators, lawyers, ministers, financiers, merchants, and physicians. George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was unanimously chosen to preside over The Constitutional Convention. Because of his many contributions to the drafting of the Constitution, James Madison, of Virginia, became known as “The Father of the Constitution.” The delegates were largely educated men, though many, like Benjamin Franklin, were self-taught. Benjamin Franklin’s library contained 4,276 volumes at the time of his death.
Today, the Constitution stands as a document that reflects a great history, but is still alive.
It continues to be relevant in its principles of governing an ever-changing society.
Alexander Hamilton once said constitutional protections could “be preserved in practice and must guard the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humours which sometimes disseminate among the people themselves.”
Our country has often altered its course in order to live up to the ideals that were laid out by the original framers of the Constitution. The Constitution was designed to grow as the nation grows. The 13th Amendment, in 1865, forever banned the practice of slavery. The 19th Amendment in 1920, guaranteed all women the right to vote.
Warren Burger, chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1969-1986 said, “The Constitution is not perfect, but it is the best thing of its kind that was ever put together.”