During a long, hot summer in Philadelphia, fifty-five delegates from 12 states came together to craft a new constitution. On this day, two-hundred and twenty-five years ago, thirty-nine of those delegates affixed their names to the document that still guides us faithfully today--the Constitution of the United States.
Today is Constitution Day, remembering September 17 of 1787. Today, we celebrate this document that unites us while we still struggle with those issues that divide us. Division is not new, not in this country and certainly not in the history of humanity. Rhode Island boycotted the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787. Fourteen delegates had already left Philadelphia and returned home by September 17. Three of the delegates that remained refused to sign the Constitution. No, disagreement and division are not new in this Country. But, our common hopes and dreams--those things that unite us--have always been more powerful than those things that divide us.
As I read our history, I see freedom as the glue that holds us all together. We may not always agree on how to use that freedom or even on how to preserve it, but we all came from somewhere else, somewhere less free. Families still come today, and as long as freedom remains our touchstone, they will continue to come.
If you are prepared to surrender your freedom, if you prefer the cloak of security to the fresh breeze of liberty, there are dozens of countries around the globe that will satisfy you. But if you thirst for self-determination, if you hunger for unbridled opportunity limited only by your dreams and God-given talents, America--governed by the people and the Constitution of the United States--stands alone. Two-hundred and twenty-five years after Benjamin Franklin reportedly emerged from Independence Hall at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention and when asked what had been created responded, "A Republic, if you can keep it," our almost unimaginable experiment in self-governance continues. Please join me today in celebrating our liberty, celebrating the political document that has guided us, and thanking God for his continuing blessings upon our Nation and upon us all.