Liberty Day at CCHS highlights Constitution
The junior class at Corydon Central High School received a lesson in American exceptionalism last Wednesday morning from W.G. (Bill) Willis, state chairman of Liberty Day Indiana. The Corydon Lions Club helped organize the event.
Willis, who spoke to the class in the auditorium of the school, told the students they should memorize the preamble to the Constitution.
‘We the people, will tell you, the government, what you can and cannot do,’ he exclaimed. ‘It was revolutionary … It embodies what we are all about as a nation. It tells the world what we’re all about. What this nation is instituted for.’
The preamble is as follows:
‘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.’
Willis said students ‘ and most Americans for that matter ‘ fail to delve into the original manuscript and study the ideas embodied in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
He said the Constitution served the nation through social transformation, civil war, two world wars, from three million people when it was created to more than 300 million now and the addition of 37 states.
‘It’s still the same document it was 229 years ago, with a few amendments,’ Willis said. ‘The supreme law of the land. That’s remarkable.’
Willis focused on the five freedoms exemplified in the First Amendment: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble and the freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances.
No such freedoms exist in many other countries, he said.
‘You can be arrested, you can be jailed and, in some countries, you can actually face death,’ Willis said, speaking of the lack of freedoms elsewhere across the globe. ‘We don’t have that in the United States, fortunately. But if you don’t know this and your parents don’t know this, the government can encroach on our liberties to the point where we think that’s just the way it should be. And it’s not the way it should be. We always have to fight for our liberties, every generation.’
Willis, an Army veteran and radio personality in French Lick (he lives in West Baden), discussed the three branches of government, their importance and their origin.
‘Where did that come from?’ Willis asked of the idea for three branches of government. ‘Some people say it was James Madison … Yes, but where did he get it? He got that idea from someplace else. Some say he got it from the Romans. No. The Greeks? No, no. It came right out of the Bible. In Isaiah 33:22: ‘And the Lord shall be your king, your lawgiver and your judge.’ There are the three branches of government, out of the Bible … our forefathers believed if we ever took the Bibles out of school, which has happened, what we would develop is educated derelicts. And when you see a lot of what’s happening, you can see that basic moral laws that founded our country are important to know. You cannot have democracy if people have no morality.’
Willis then spoke of the father of the Constitution, James Madison who said they staked the whole future of the new nation not upon the power of our government but the future of all political constitutions upon the capacities of everyone to govern themselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.
‘And yet we have judges who say you can’t have the Ten Commandments posted on public property,’ Willis said. ‘Well, that was not what our founders believed.’
Willis also spoke of a Hoosier connection to the Constitution.
Willis told the audience to turn to the 26th amendment to the constitution (each student was given a pocket-size Constitution), which addresses the age of voting.
‘In 1971, we were in the midst of the Vietnam War,’ he said. ‘We were drafting people right out of high school at age 18 … At that time you had to be 21 to vote. People said, ‘You know, if they’re old enough to fight, they should be old enough to vote.’ And so it was a Hoosier, Sen. Birch Bayh, who introduced this amendment to give every American the right to vote at age 18.’
The Liberty Day Institute was started in Indiana, Willis said, in part because more Hoosier students knew the names of the three stooges than the three branches of government.
‘The Lions Club of Indiana said we ought to do something about that,’ he said.
Founded in 1996, the Liberty Day Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young Americans about the contents of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
The institute works with educators and community organizations to ensure that every child in America knows and understands the basics of the nation’s founding documents.
The Liberty Day Institute provides educators with materials with which to introduce their students to the contents of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. These materials include pocket-sized booklets containing the founding documents and accompanying sets of 24 factual question and answer flash cards.
For more information, contact Willis at 812-936-9450 or by email at [email protected] or visit libertyday.org.