Do any veterans or other patriotic citizens have any doubt about the importance of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution?
Let’s start with Number One:
“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.”
Notice how James Madison and the Continental Congress put religious freedom first in this bundle of personal rights? The colonies of New England had a history as refuges from the tyranny of State Religions in Europe, and this shaped the thinking of the Founding Fathers. Our founding documents include references to the Creator and Divine Providence, our oaths start with a hand on the Bible and finish with a plea for God’s assistance.
But now, in the fever of “Cancel-Culture,” there are those who would erase all vestiges of Christian or Judaic symbolism from our Capitol starting with prayer in Congress and leading to the removal of Moses the Law-Giver from the face of the Supreme Court building.
Next is the right of citizens to express their opinions freely either in speech or print. In the early days of our country, public speech and the news on printed broadsheets, letters and newspapers were the only way to distribute vital information. Over the years and especially within our own lifetimes, our news comes from large corporate networks that are increasingly aligned with politics. Our very language is being altered to fit the ideas of an increasingly-extreme minority. Traditional ideas are being branded as “hateful” or “non-inclusive” (Newspeak from George Orwell’s “1984”).
The right to assemble peaceably to protest, worship or even celebrate is being threatened. COVID-19 “superspreaders” like political rallies, church meetings and peaceful protests are forbidden by arbitrary decree, while violent left-wing protests in our cities and massive migrations across our borders are tolerated. Petitioning the government for redress of grievances isn’t illegal yet, but many members of Congress ignore the voices and petitions of their constituents.
The erosion of these basic rights has increased over the last few decades and really took off over 2020. Now is not the time for apathy; defend our rights by practicing them out loud! Defend our history by remembering it – all of it. Participate in local government and actively support our local leaders or even become one of them.
Some good news I can report: According to an exchange of e-mails with our governor’s office, our Missouri National Guard soldiers returned from Washington, D.C., in the first week of February.
Next time, we’ll look at Amendment Two and if space permits, Three and Four. If you don’t already have your own copies of the founding documents, they are still available at the Texas County Military Museum on Grand Avenue in Houston. It’s open every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Veterans organizations in Houston:
•American Legion Post 41 meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the meeting hall on the west end of Chilton Oil Company in Houston (just north of Pizza Hut). Changes to membership eligibility now allow U.S. veterans of all branches and periods of service to join the American Legion.
•Fleet Reserve Association Branch 364 meets at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the American Legion Post 41 meeting hall in Houston. The FRA exists to serve all veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.
Houston resident Robert E. Simpson is a retired U.S. Navy chief electronics technician who served from 1969 to 1990. Email email@example.com.