Families, communities, and America are stronger when parents and children understand the importance of Constitution Day. Constitution Day marks the anniversary of the day that the Framers of the United States Constitution signed what would become the longest-lasting written constitution in history – September 17, 1787, or 234 years ago. The U.S. Constitution is important to Americans, but it is “a common heritage of constitutions around the world” according to President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A constitution is the foundation of government. It provides structure and limits for the exercise of government powers. The United States Constitution is the oldest written constitution still in force today. Though originally adopted by only a small number of colonies, it soon became a model worldwide. Today, every nation except three have adopted written constitutions.
The U.S. “Constitution has endured for 234 years because it was brilliantly conceived and based on the principles of liberty set forth in the Declaration of Independence” according to Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College.
Dallin H. Oaks and millions of other Americans – including myself – believe that the U.S. Constitution has endured because God inspired it and revealed eternal principles.
The United States Constitution is unique because God revealed that He “established” it “for the rights and protection of all flesh” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77; see also verse 80) ….
What was God’s purpose in establishing the United States Constitution? We see it in the doctrine of moral agency. In the first decade of the restored Church, its members on the western frontier were suffering private and public persecution. Partly this was because of their opposition to the human slavery then existing in the United States. In these unfortunate circumstances, God revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith eternal truths about His doctrine.
God has given His children moral agency – the power to decide and to act. The most desirable condition for the exercise of that agency is maximum freedom for men and women to act according to their individual choices. Then, the revelation explains, “every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:78). “Therefore,” the Lord revealed, “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:79). This obviously means that human slavery is wrong. And according to the same principle, it is wrong for citizens to have no voice in the selection of their rulers or the making of their laws.
It is critical for Americans of all ages to understand what the Constitution says and does not say as well as what it does and does not do. I encourage parents to study the U.S. Constitution and to teach the principles found in it – as well as those found in the Declaration of Independence – to their children. When parents teach their children to love and to honor the Constitution of the United States, they can strengthen their family as well as their community and America.