Last weekend, I had the immense pleasure of helping celebrate Constitution Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Constituting America (www.constitutingamerica.org) founded by actress Janine Turner and political activist Cathy Gillespie.
The celebration capped off their annual competition called We the People 9*17 Contest, that encourages kids from kindergarten through college to read the United States Constitution and express their thoughts.
Well, the winners will amaze you! From a wonderfully-detailed emblem created by Arkansas 5th grader Hollie Elliott all the way to the speech from Bob Jones University college junior Jonathan Ludwig, the winners of this contest will help assure you the future of our country will be in good hands.
Two music winners were particularly remarkable – Emily Keener, a 12-year-old (!) from Ohio won best Middle School Song and Kori Caswell, a senior at Hannibal High School in Hannibal, Missouri, won for best high school song. You will be blown away by both of these young ladies and their amazing musical abilities and voices. Please visit the Constituting America website to listen to these amazing songs and see all the winners.
Keener’s mother Jenny told me Emily is self-taught on the guitar and that she has to tell Emily many times to go to bed because she won’t stop playing her guitar. Caswell plays in her school’s band as well as with the Quincy Symphony Orchestra.
When the Constituting America winners were invited to the Independence Hall Tea Party Association rally Saturday evening, Caswell rocked the crowd with a sing-along of her song. I found myself singing the tune way after the performance.
The purpose of Constituting American and the We the People 9*17 Contest is to promote the Constitution to our children. So many times, they don’t hear about what the Constitution means to them, or worse, their teachers subvert or disparage the Constitution. This contest offers an opportunity for kids to explore the truth about what the Constitution means to them in whatever medium works for them – art, music, written word, or film.
Winners this year won a trip to Philadelphia with their families to help film a documentary about the Constitution, filmed at various locations around the city including Independence Hall, Christ Church, and the Constitution Center, which is a fabulous place to learn more about our founding document. The children also read the preamble of the Constitution with former Chief Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and performed their works in an awards ceremony on Saturday.
Each student also won a gift card or check provided by one of the contest sponsors including Visa and American Express. For all the rules for the 2011-2012 contest, please visit their website page at http://www.constitutingamerica.org/downloads.php.
Judges for the contest are an accomplished group including President Bush’s chief speechwriter Marc Thiessen, Walden Media president and co-founder Michael Flaherty (that’s the studio that produced the Narnia movies) and Peter Flaherty, co-founder and principal of The Shawmut Group. You might know this firm as the one who puts together those public service announcements like the little boy who usurps the concert pianist to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on stage to the shock and then delight of his parents.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for your child, their class at school or the patriot club you have started with them to learn about what the Constitution means to them.
In the words of 6th grader Jeffrey Pistor, Best Poetry Winner Grades 3-5, from Texas, “The Constitution is something that every man should know. To hold our country together and not let freedom go.” So true.
Find out more at www.constitutingamerica.org.
With our armed forces numbering under 2 million folks, it’s not as common as it was even 40 years ago to know someone who serves in any branch of the service, let alone the Marines.
If you have a family member who served or is serving – thank them. If you’ve served – thank you.
Here’s a little history of the Corps from “The American Patriot’s Almanac” by William Bennett and John T.E. Cribb (revised edition 2010, Thomas Nelson Publishing, ISBN 978-1-59555-260-0, pg 449). Also included are some famous Marines you might recognize and some interesting facts about the Marines.
During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress ordered two battalions of what were called “Continental Marines” to be formed. The recruiting office was in Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern.
They were to be the security forces for the Navy’s ships, carry out ship-to-ship fighting, and were the first to land during missions.
The first landing was led by Captain Samuel Nicholas in March 1776 in the Bahamas where they found British ordnance.
After the war ended, they were disbanded until 1798.
The Marine Corps flag, designed in 1939, has a scarlet background with a yellow and gray globe, to represent the service to any part of the world and an anchor which reminds us of their partnership with the Navy and the amphibious missions they undertake. The globe is held up by an eagle that holds in its beak a scroll with the words “Semper Fidelis” on it. Semper Fidelis is the Marine Corps motto and means “Always Faithful.” At the bottom of the flag is a scroll that says “United States Marine Corps.”
By the way, on this date in 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington, Virginia. That’s the one with the soldiers raising up the American flag.
Some famous Marines (from the www.usmchangout.com website)
Don Adams, Actor from “Get Smart”
Drew Carey, Host of “The Price is Right”
Brian Dennehy, Actor
Ronald Lee Ermey – Actor best known as the drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket” and now the commercial where he calls his patient “jack wagon”
John Glenn, Astronaut/politician
Scott Glenn, Actor
Lee Marvin, Actor
Ed McMahon, TV co-host, who achieved the rank of Colonel
Oliver North, Lieutenant Colonel
George C. Scott, Actor most famous for portraying General Patton
Bernard Shaw, CNN Anchor
Thomas Sowell, Professor and brilliant writer
Larry Wilcox, Actor most famous for his role on “CHIPS”
Montel Williams, TV Talk show host, served 15 years
Ted Williams, Baseball player
Jonathan Winters, Actor/Comedian
Also according to this website, the English Bulldog is the mascot of the Marines.
The origin of the nickname “Leatherneck” is most likely from the heavy leather collars early Marines wore to protect their jugular veins from saber blows. The nickname “Jarhead” comes from World War II when the Marines wore dress blues with white collars that made them resemble Mason jars.
The site also says the motivational phrase “Oorah” stems from the 1950s with Marines stationed in Korea. They often heard the familiar alarm “Aarugha” when they dove in their submarines, and the term “Oorah” morphed from that sound because it was shorter and easier to say. Now it is a call to action and a motivational phrase used when Marines run or train.
Happy Birthday Marine Corps – thanks for helping keep us safe! Oorah – Semper Fi.]]>
The site is called Fourth of July on the National Mall, and is the National Park Service’s site for the festivities that will take place in Washington, D.C. One of the most spectacular events will be the celebration of the end to the four yearlong restoration project for the Washington Monument. There will be other activities as well, such as fireworks, music, exhibits, all starting with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence at 10:00am.
This is an excellent place to visit today, and find out about what is going on in our nation’s capitol. Enjoy your visit here today, and then enjoy the rest of your holiday celebrating what is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.