Today, 232-years ago, people who had endured great hardship in a long war signed their names to a revolutionary document: The United States Constitution. It’s not a long document, but the foundation of a governmental “experiment” that has lasted much longer than many thought it would. While there are some gaps left open for interpretation in it, that’s what makes it so unique…it can grow and evolve with the times if those governed so want it to change. The Bill of Rights was the first addition, and there have been more since. Some may say the document isn’t perfect, but I submit that it’s mankind’s flaws that make it imperfect—we can only blame ourselves if the government doesn’t operate in our best interests.
When I lived in Washington D.C., I visited the National Archives building that houses the founding documents of the United States. I’d like to say I left it awestruck, but my expectations far exceeded the experience. It’s a large room, a little dim, and you file by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in their protective cases with giant figures on murals watching over you. The writing has faded, too. Although I left there a bit underwhelmed, it wasn’t until after I walked along the Mall that I could appreciate their impact. I was free because of those flimsy pieces of parchment, because of the courage of people to break away from an oppressive government and create one representative of them, because of the blood shed to allow those documents to exist.
During my next visit to D.C., I’ll pay the archives another visit. This time, I won’t walk in thinking I’ll see something spectacular. Instead, I’ll enter humbly with profound gratitude in my heart for the opportunities given to me by those who created the documents.