In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and last week's decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that declared reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional, this year's Fourth of July has the potential to be the most patriotic ever. As Kenai Peninsula residents take advantage of the day off work to enjoy parades, picnics, barbecues and fishing, we hope they also will take time to remember the reason for the holiday.
Independence Day, which is Thursday, marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the document has been described as "the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty." Many of the freedoms we hold so dear today, however, were set forth in what is known as the Bill of Rights, the original 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments were passed by Congress Sept. 25, 1789, and ratified Dec. 15, 1791. Reacquainting ourselves with our Bill of Rights is perhaps a good way to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy today:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free
state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
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