Bill of Rights – Celebrating its 218th Birthday

One of America’s Charters, the “Bill of Rights,” celebrated its 218th birthday on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.  With Virginia’s affirmative vote on December 15, 1791, they became the last state to ratify the first 10 amendments to our new Constitution.  They are simply referred to as the Bill of Rights, but they are anything but simple.

Bill of Rights picture. Click on image for larger version.

Bill of Rights picture. Click on the image for a larger version.

The rights and principals adopted that day where some of the most important gifts granted to us by our fellow citizens.  They were a revolutionary statement of protection offered to the common man and extension of England’s Magna Carta.

One sheet of parchment declared to the world that our citizens had the rights of freedom of Religion, and of Speech and Press; we could assemble freely and petition government for grievances.

Furthermore, it preserved our rights to bear arms, that our homes could not be taken over by the military, it protected us from improper search or seizures without a valid warrant.

It continued by addressing that certain crimes had to be put by a Grand Jury, and that an individual could not be tried for the same offense twice, nor be a witness against himself.

It clearly stated we could not be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process or property taken by government without giving just compensation.  Speedy trails, impartial juries, being tried in the area of which you are accused, and that you may face your accusers were guaranteed.  The use of common law, trail by jury, and that bail will be available and fines will not be excessively imposed nor will cruel or unusual punishment be inflected.

Finally, that the powers of the Federal government are limited and that all other powers lie with the States and to the People themselves.

First Congress listens to Madison present Bill of Rights.

First Congress listens to Madison present Bill of Rights.

James Madison, "Father of the Constitution" and first author of the Bill of Rights

James Madison, "Father of the Constitution," first author of the Bill of Rights.

We all need to read, understand, and celebrate these important doctrines.  We learn them in school, but many do not remember them long after, and they are often taken for granted.  Have you seen Jay Leno’s segment called Jay-walking, it is embarrassing.

Many of our forefathers died protecting these rights and you do not have to look to far in your own neighborhoods today to see someone who has served in our military, our legislatures or local governments, our first responders and our courts of law.  These are the people on the front line of democracy.

During the last World War one of America’s great painters Norman Rockwell brought to life four master works known as the “four freedoms.”  These paintings echoed some of the key principals forged in the Bill of Rights.

Four Freedoms series painted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

"Four Freedoms" series painted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

Take time and read this very short document that is so important to all of us, as citizens of this great land.

Show your spirit and belief in America, fly the Flag!

One Response to “Bill of Rights – Celebrating its 218th Birthday

  • Bob Olsen
    8 years ago

    Here it is 2012 and no one has posted on this site in three years! Sad to say, it would seem that The Bill of Rights are read in too few classrooms today. Every citizen should read and understand them

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