A new message for Constitution Day

Last Monday was Constitution Day (the anniversary of the day the constitution was signed). Being fully entrenched in my student teaching experience I felt compelled to look into what resources are available from media sources to address this important event.

Specifically, I wanted to address the importance of the Bill of Rights. I found videos, internet sites, and activities that addressed constitutional issues, but was unhappy with all of them. They addressed the importance of the Bill of Rights to give students pride in there country, but sent a message that these freedoms are guaranteed and that they as students bear no responsibility. This is not a message that I could send to my students.

Constitution Day should not be simply a “Yeah America!” celebration; we have the fourth of July for that. The hard reality that I felt compelled to share with my students is that not twenty years have passed in this country with major national legislation that inhibited the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights from the Alien and Sedition acts to the Espionage act, Smith act, and Patriot act. In fact even the establishment of the Bill of Rights was done only to appease opposition to the constitution created by national leaders.

What I wanted to express to students is that the Bill of Rights and American freedoms have not been preserved by our government, but by courageous and common citizens from the famous like labor leaders Eugene Debs, Mother Jones or Joe Hill to the common individuals like Mary Beth Tinker who fought for a student’s freedom of expression. Unfortunately that is not the message of media resources.

Teaching this week I was glad that I had a forum like this one to share with you - media professionals - the need for media resources that share diverse perspectives on issues like personal freedoms. Where are the media resources that talk about the fact that power will always try to undermine individual freedoms, and that individual citizens have the responsibility to fight to preserve them at all costs?

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