Custodians of the Constitution

James - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on February 27, 2007

I believe in our Constitution.

I believe in our Constitution because I am an officer in the United States Navy and it comforts me, helps me to sleep at night when my body is tired and mind distraught to know that I serve ideals, not a person; that I serve you and I, not myself. Our country is not perfect; our leaders are even less so. I am imperfect. Though freedom, equality, and civility are the ideals to which we are committed, at times, even they are imperfect. But that does not mean that our ideals are not worth upholding, revering, maintaining for future generations. The first reason that I believe in our Constitution is because its ideals give me hope.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” is how it begins. The document lays the foundation for a constitutional republic, a form of government in which every American can participate. This, however, was not always so. At the time of its writing, blacks could not participate. Women could not participate. Fortunately, this is not true anymore. We had citizens with the courage, the fortitude, and the unselfishness to change our Constitution to allow all to participate. Not always great and powerful citizens, either—sometimes these citizens were men and women like you and I who changed it. And that’s the second reason why I believe in our Constitution, because it can change, because it is truly a living document.

I carried a pocket-sized Constitution with me during my recent deployment to the Middle East and Africa. I can remember sitting in my tent, pulling it out, and opening it. It is not a long document—it is not a hard read. When you read it, you can feel the tension that went into writing its words. You can almost hear the late night negotiations, the bitter rivalries, the fights. But it got written.

What does that mean? That means that people put aside their egos, lowered their voices, and remembered that they were working for America—not for their legacy, not for their profit, not for their gain. They were working for their neighbors, for their children. They were working for you and I. Our founding fathers, even with all their faults (and as a student of history I assure you they had many) they forgot themselves, worked together and compromised. Compromise. It means that both sides give up a little and give in a little to make things better for everyone. Compromise is the third reason why I believe in our Constitution.

The final reason why I believe in our Constitution is because it is ours. It is yours and mine. Now, we do not possess it. Hardly. We are custodians of it. We are caretakers of it. But we—you and I—are the ones entrusted with its safety, its implementation and its perpetuation. You and I: It is ours. And that’s the final reason I believe in our Constitution.