The U.S. Constitution: A document worth defending

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mike Cannon
  • 62nd Aerial Port Squadron commander
"We the people ..."

You probably recognize these words. They are the first three words on the document we swore to support and defend -- the Constitution of the United States of America.

"In order to form a more perfect union ..."

Almost 230 years ago, on Sep. 17, 1787, 39 sons of liberty signed this historic document establishing our basis of government and laying the foundations for the creation of this great nation.

"Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense ..."

You don't have to be good at math to realize this document was signed over 11 years after our Declaration of Independence. The signers state clearly that this was done "[in the year] of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth." It took our founding fathers almost 12 years of strife, diplomacy, discussion, debate and help from other nations before they had a government that all 13 states could accept.

This is 2007. Saddam was toppled in 2003. How long will it take? I don't know. But I do know that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The Treaty of Paris, the document which officially ended our Revolutionary War, wasn't ratified until Jan.14, 1784. That's right ... our battle for independence, in a much less complicated era, took almost eight years.

You can't cook democracy in a microwave. You have to do it the old fashioned way. It takes time to build a government. It takes a long time to build a good government.

"Promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity ..."

Even after 12 years, they still didn't have it quite right. Four years later, in 1791, they added the first 10amendments -- the Bill of Rights. Since then, our Constitution has been amended an additional 17 times.

"Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I'll bet that many of you have never actually read the document we swore to support and defend. We have brothers and sisters in arms putting their lives on the line today because of that oath. It is an amazing document. With genius, it outlines an intricate system of checks and balances specific enough to form a working government 230 years ago, yet general enough to withstand the political, social, economical, ideological and scientific changes of the past two and a half centuries. If you haven't read it, you should. Pick it up today. It is well worth reading.