This day represents both the birth of the United States of America, and rebirth in a new year. To celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution, a large crowd gathered at the McKay Events Center at Utah Valley University to take part in a program that included patriotic music and a speech by author David McCullough. The music and the speeches contained much worth remembering, but what follows is only a sample of the proceedings.
President Matt Holland recalled the words of William Gladstone who described the U.S. Constitution as "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man", but Holland was careful to remind the audience of the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, a relationship that Abraham Lincoln best articulated:
President Holland also drew upon Alexander Hamilton's introduction to the Federalist:
"AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."
McCullough, a masterful historian and story-teller, provided many insights into the founding of the United States of America and the importance of the U.S. Constitution. Before beginning the brief tour of early American History, he reminded the audience that the founding fathers were not gods, but real human beings with real weaknesses and real challenges. In spite of the personal failings and the adversities that they faced, McCullough admonished that we should develop and teach a deep respect and gratitude for the miracle that was accomplished by these men and women.
McCullough called upon the audience to become more than a "nation of spectators". When compared to the difficulties that these pioneers of our nation faced, McCullough remarked that we are a generation of "softies". Ignorance and Freedom are mutually exclusive. "We are accountable," he said, recounting the courage that was required to face the British armies.
After calling upon members of the audience to "act well your part"(Alexander Pope, Essay on Man), he quoted John Adams: