Maybe you watched the second Republican Presidential Debate this week. If you did, you saw several very accomplished men and one remarkable woman in the Reagan Museum. The Constitution was a frequent subject.
The Tenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment. The Second Amendment. These amendments are hundreds of years old. But in 2015 they are just as alive and relevant as they were when quill scratched parchment.
Did you notice that Constitution Day was this week? We didn’t get a day off work to celebrate, so most of us missed it.
The students at Upson- Lee North Elementary in Thomaston never miss Constitution Day. For the 15th straight year they put on a big bash. This year 180 students participated in the program and the auditorium was filled.
You’ve got to see this. The kids wear white wigs. The “men” wear white knee socks. The “women” wear long dresses. There are three- cornered hats. By the dozens they stream onto the stage in period costumes.
The narrator introduces the delegates. We learn that this one slept most of the time. That one talked forever. This one got angry and left early.
Ben Franklin gets carried into the convention in a chair attached to long handles—he’s too old to walk. We see the delegates pointing their fingers and slamming their fists to the desk during heated moments. The delegates from the small colonies turn their backs when Virginia and the larger colonies overlook them.
When the convention recesses for a couple of weeks, other kids dressed for their parts perform a minuet.
Students walk onto the stage to tell us a little about each of the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights.
The choir sings Yankee Doodle and we all learn that “macaroni” was a term for stylish attire.
About 20 students come onto the stage and recite the Preamble to the Constitution. As they speak, they also use their hands to make the sign language motions for the hearing impaired.
Have you forgotten the Preamble? It’s beautiful. “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.”
In court, lawyers grapple over the words of that document every day. Political candidates emphasize the portions that support their agendas.
But in a little town in middle Georgia, fourth and fifth grade students celebrate this treasured document. Nobody does that better.
Scott Ballard is District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.