232 years ago, the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia and we celebrate the anniversary on Tuesday, September 17. Before signing, anti-federalists James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton fought for a Bill of Rights. Fearing a monarchy, Americans were given unalienable rights to preserve democracy and freedom.
Every year, the Freedom Forum institute holds a survey about the First Amendment for adult Americans. This year, 64 percent could name at least one freedom and only 4 percent could name freedom of petition, the most forgotten freedom.
Freedom of the press is one that student journalists, journalism advisers and activists hold close to their hearts. Without New Voices, 36 states around the country have school newspapers, yearbooks and broadcast teams that are limited in their reporting. Constitution day reminds them of what their founding fathers wanted them to have.
Student journalist and New Voices activist from Nebraska, LeAnne Bugay, believes in celebrating Constitution Day and spreading awareness of the First Amendment. “The First Amendment is beyond essential,” Bugay said. “Learning how to be responsible with the power of the First Amendment in a supportive school environment makes us responsible adults in the real world.”
Constitution Day does not have to be a hard thing to celebrate. Something as simple as a survey to see who on your social media page can name all five freedoms can be very efficient in reminding people what their freedoms are. Last year, the student newspaper at Prosper High School set up a booth for students to stop by during lunches. The students were given sticky notes to write their names and list it under which of the five freedoms means the most to them in their lives.
The day that our founding fathers signed their names on a document they believed would be the best way to run our country is just as important as any other holiday. It does them no justice if we as Americans do not celebrate the amendments, and especially the first.
The first amendment applies to everyone, not just journalist. It should not be something taken for granted, even though it can be easy to forget how easily these rights can be taken away. Americans should be grateful to live in a country where their voices matter. Spend time on September 17 celebrating what you have because not everyone gets to say they are free.
New Voices Texas, Organizational Officer