What the U.S. Constitution means to us

It is Constitution Week again. Local DAR member and historian Peggy Terry asked me to articulate my thoughts about what the Constitution means to me. Since she was visiting from Michigan, I engaged my sister Judy Cherni in the project. In no time at all, we were almost emotional about the subject.

No one (with the exception of Congress, the Supreme Court and the president) probably gives the Constitution much thought on a daily basis. It is for that reason we should be grateful this document exists. The Constitution is a living, “breathing” document. While we drive on our streets, shop for our groceries and attend our schools, we lose sight of the fact that the Constitution affords us these freedoms. We can cast our ballots as we see fit, and we can go to sleep at night without fear of imprisonment for affirming our beliefs.

In the early 1900s, our father’s parents emigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in search of a better life for themselves and their future children. Several generations ago, our mother’s family immigrated to the US from Ireland with similar goals. The Constitution assured them they would have equal protection under the law when they became citizens. It didn’t matter that they were poor immigrants. It provided them with the fundamental rights to make of their lives what they would.

A day does not go by that I do not ponder my blessings. Judy and I were fortunate to be born in this country, obtain superb educations at public schools and universities and achieve successes other women of the world can only dream of.

Yet, we are not alone. By virtue of the rights the Constitution bestows on us, women all over our country have the freedom to pursue their ambitions.

The fact that we don’t think about the Constitution and its significance on a daily basis confirms how important it is to us.

It is unobtrusive, but it works, and it works well.

It has been doing so since 1787. Yes, we have had to tweak it along the way, but, for the most part, it has withstood the test of time.

All of us should take a few minutes during Constitution Week to contemplate this document, which allow us to be who we are.

 

Rita Cherni-Smith, MD

Judith A. Cherni, DVM


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