July 2, 2013 — Frequently in the Bible God gives instructions to “tell” or “do” certain things to ensure generations who did not bear witness remember what He did.
For example, when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land a representative from each of the 12 tribes took up a stone to prompt their children to ask “What do these stones mean?” They were instructed to tell the story of how the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord so the people could cross. The stones were to be a memorial forever.
I witnessed this same process when I walked with heirs of the Clinton Walker family during their tour of Westwood on June 16 led by docents from the museum. Generations of family members visited land holdings and studied the history of their ancestors so they would remember their heritage.
On July 4 we will attend parades, prepare picnics and watch fireworks to celebrate Independence Day but do we remember what that means? How often do we read the Declaration of Independence or review the Constitution of the United States?
I remember the last time the newly elected members of the board of trustees for the Westwood School District were sworn into office a man in the audience asked them if they knew what they were pledging to uphold. It was a good question.
In an age of technology we can swiftly access documents. When I looked up the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution known as the “Bill of Rights” I noted the first is very familiar; perhaps because it is frequently discussed. Although we may not be able to recite the first amendment verbatim we know the concepts.
It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The second amendment is also quoted frequently — the right to keep and bear arms. However, I could only name a few more and certainly not in the correct order. They are: conditions for quarters of soldiers; right of search and seizure regulated; provisions concerning prosecution; right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc.; right to a trial by jury; excessive bail, cruel punishment; rule of construction of Constitution; and rights of the states under Constitution.
When I was in high school, history was a favorite subject, but it has been a long time since I have read a book pertaining to my heritage as a U.S. citizen that dug down deep into past events. Perhaps I should make it a goal.
Good historical accounts and copies of important documents can act in a way similar to the memorial stones the Israelites pulled from the Jordan. Remembering specifics truly gives cause to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks.
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