Helping our children learn about the Constitution

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed their names to the United States Constitution.  In doing so, they laid the framework on which we have built our nation.


They agreed that this new country must above all else be dedicated to the preservation of individual liberty. Every person in America would be free to pursue happiness as they wished so long as they respected the right of others to do the same.


The Constitution was the means by which the delegates guaranteed this liberty. It did so by creating a limited government that would hold only those powers delegated to it by the people and providing a system of checks and balances that maintains a distinct separation of powers within the branches of government. It would be strong enough to guarantee our basic rights, but not so strong as to undermine them.


This is a precarious balance of power, but one that has served as the bedrock and protector of our freedom for 225 years.  As Americans, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our children and grandchildren understand how blessed they are to live in this great nation and the responsibility that comes with it.

Learning about the U.S. Constitution and the foundation of our nation’s government is important for every student and so this year, in honor of Constitution Day, I invited fifth grade students from across the Sixth Congressional District to work together as a class and submit any questions they might have regarding the U.S. Constitution to me.  I was extremely pleased and encouraged by the many responses I received from these students.  

Some of the most popular questions that I was asked include: how long would it take to make a change to the Constitution, how hard is it to change the Constitution, and how long did it take to write the Constitution?  I want to commend all of our elementary school children on their thoughtful questions, and I hope they found my answers helpful. 


I was honored to have the opportunity to visit with the fifth graders of Mountain View Elementary School in Rockingham County and to answer their questions about the Constitution in person.  I look forward to building on the success of this year’s Constitution Day project and hope to engage even more students in the future. 


The lessons contained within the U.S. Constitution are an integral part of every citizen’s educational foundation.  I hope that my recent Constitution Day project allowed our students to reflect on these fundamental principles upon which our country was founded and how these principles have made us the freest and most powerful nation in the history of the world.