Our precious American Bill of Rights was ratified Dec. 15, 1791.
The Bill of Rights defines the very essence of America. Our Constitution would never have become the law of the land without it. Several states refused to join the Union unless there was a Bill of Rights to limit the federal power and protect individual rights.
Our Bill of Rights was, and still is, a "radical" (from the Latin "radix" meaning "root") document. In 1791 it defined the fundamental roots of individual human freedoms. It asserted that these "inalienable" individual rights are not granted to citizens by any human government, but that they are to be protected from violation by government -- specifically the federal government of the United States of America.
Among the essential individual rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are: the freedom of free speech and of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, and to practice one's religion and not have a state-certified-and-funded religion imposed on citizens. The Bill of Rights provides protections against unreasonable searches and coerced confessions; against state seizure of private property without just compensation; rights to counsel and a jury trial and protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Our Bill of Rights does more: it defines the limits of government power. More directly than any other single document of law, the Bill of Rights stands between tyranny and liberty. Refugees flee to the United States for its liberty, the foundation of which is our Bill of Rights.
So why isn't our Bill of Rights recognized and celebrated throughout America every Dec. 15 on Bill of Rights Day? We have special days for the birthdays of great leaders, to remember special events, and to honor our military services. But of all these celebrations aimed to advance the cause of liberty -- the cause and celebration of our precious Bill of Rights is the most fundamental.
Let's all celebrate Bill of Rights Day! Even though citizens are often divided by various political positions and arguments, we hope we can come together in a multi-partisan effort to celebrate Bill of Rights Day, and reaffirm that the Bill of Rights belongs to and protects the rights of ALL Americans.
We are planning the second annual grassroots celebration of Bill of Rights Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Tonto Apache Gym. This event will also be a fund-raiser for the Payson Senior Center, and all proceeds raised will be matched up to $2,500 by local Modern Woodmen of America Camps.
Founding Father Patrick Henry (portrayed by Lance Hurley) will deliver his famous speech. State Superintendent Tom Horne will present awards for essay contests to local student winners.
Congressman Rick Renzi has also accepted an invitation to attend.
Let's all come together on Dec. 10 to support our Rim Country seniors and to celebrate Bill of Rights Day.