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Public Statements

Constitution Day

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONSTITUTION DAY -- (Senate - September 17, 2008)

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, in giving these remarks, I am saluting Senator Byrd.

Just a few short blocks from this Capitol at the National Archives lies an old and yellowing document, encased under heavy glass.

It is the Constitution of the United States, signed on this day in 1787 by 39 brave Americans. They and their countrymen had just fought a war for liberty. And they understood that the highest goal of a government is to preserve and protect that liberty.

The oldest delegate, Benjamin Franklin, was already revered by his colleagues as one of America's greatest statesmen. They wanted to hear his opinion on their work. Franklin told his compatriots in Philadelphia, ``I consent, sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.''

Over two centuries later, we can say proudly that the system of Government those great men devised is the best--simple in form, elegant in function, and firmly devoted to the preservation of liberty. Amended many times but never abandoned, our Constitution is the oldest still in use today.

We celebrate, every year, the brilliant document our Founders gave us by marking September 17 as Constitution Day. Senator Byrd was the one who suggested that we do that. It is a day for all Americans, but especially schoolchildren, to learn more about the Constitution, to understand how it works, and to appreciate how it has guided our Nation through growth and change.

I want to thank the senior Senator from West Virginia for sponsoring the legislation 4 years ago to mark this day and to celebrate this seminal document. We all know the love Senator Byrd has for American history, and the history of the Senate.

He knows that you cannot truly understand how liberty is preserved in our country without understanding the Constitution. Thank you, Senator Byrd for your efforts.

Constitution Day serves to promote civic awareness. In Kentucky, we take this charge seriously, and through important efforts like the Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky and other projects, we are working to increase civic awareness across the Bluegrass State.

So on this day, we recognize the students, teachers, and community leaders in Kentucky and across the Nation who promote and protect the ideals of our glorious Constitution.

And we say a special thanks for our men and women in uniform, who defend it.

More than two centuries ago, the 39 signers of our Constitution gave us a more perfect Union through a document that endures and guides us here today. They understood, as we all must, that above all, Government serves to secure the blessings of liberty for the people of our great Nation.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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