WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Our Opinion: Celebrate Constitution this week for its guarantee of American freedom

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It’s invoked in immigration debates, campus speaker controversies, copyright clashes and challenges to police searches.

Conservatives and liberals alike profess their loyalty to it, though their interpretations differ considerably. Schoolchildren learn about it. Lawyers and judges devote their lives to understanding it.

The ink dried 230 years ago, but legal tussles over its authors’ intent and its modern application make the United States Constitution as relevant and revolutionary today as when it was written.

Beginning this Sunday, the United States observes Constitution Week from Sept. 17-23 to mark the anniversary of the document’s signing on Sept. 17, 1787. The Constitution became the law of the land on June 21, 1788 upon ratification of nine of the 13 states.

Here in Wilson, our institutions of higher learning and a historical group are planning public events to promote an understanding and appreciation of our country’s ultimate source of law.

The Wilson Community College Student Government Association is holding Constitution Day presentations from noon to 1 p.m. today in the college’s DelMastro Auditorium. The event features brief remarks from students, staff and faculty members “to increase your knowledge and awareness of our rights and the law,” a promotional flier notes.

On Sunday, the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Thomas Hadley Chapter will hold a bell-ringing ceremony on the Wilson County Courthouse steps with Mayor Bruce Rose presiding over the observance.

Brass bells will peal at 4 p.m. from sea to shining sea, marking — to the hour — the 230th anniversary of the Constitution’s signing.

It’s to the DAR’s credit that Constitution Day is observed at all. The group’s president general, New Bern native Gertrude Sprague Carraway, secured President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s support for a national Constitution Week. Upon passage of a congressional resolution, Eisenhower formalized the anniversary celebration in August 1956.

On Monday, Barton College will host Wilson attorney and retired judge Albert Thomas Jr. for a presentation entitled “The United States Constitution: Why the Debate Will Never End.”

A reception is planned for 5 p.m. at Barton’s Willis N. Hackney Library, and Thomas is scheduled to speak from 5:30 to 7, concluding with a question-and-answer session.

Thomas, who served as a district court judge for more than 16 years, a chief district court judge for five years and spent two years on the N.C. Court of Appeals, is a bona fide authority on the Constitution. We’re fortunate to have his knowledge and expertise here in Wilson, and we think Barton couldn’t have selected a better Constitution Day speaker.

All three events are free of charge and open to the public. We hope they are well-attended.

Learn about your constitutional rights at Wilson Community College this afternoon. Join the DAR’s proud patriots to celebrate America’s foundational document on Sunday. And stop by the Hackney Library on Monday for a wise jurist’s perspective on the constitutional controversies still making headlines today.

It’s hard to top Fourth of July fireworks for stoking star-spangled pride, but without the Constitution and the individual rights it guarantees, America wouldn’t be the “land of the free” we know and love.

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