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President Harry S. Truman's Remarks at the National Archives
Dedicating the New Shrine for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
December 15th, 1952

"...the Constitution is not merely a matter of words"

" The longer I live, the more I am impressed by the significance of our simple official oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Perhaps it takes a lifetime of experience to understand how much the Constitution means to our national life.

You can read about the Constitution and you can study it in books, but the Constitution is not merely a matter of words. The Constitution is a living force--it is a growing thing.

The Constitution belongs to no one group of people and to no single branch of the Government. We acknowledge our judges as the interpreters of the Constitution, but our executive branch and our legislative branch alike operate within its framework and must apply it and its principles in all they do.

The Constitution expresses an idea that belongs to the people--the idea of the free man. What this idea means may vary from time to time. There was a time when people believed that the Constitution meant that men could not be prevented from exploiting child labor or paying sweatshop wages.

We no longer believe these things. We have discovered that the Constitution does not prevent us from correcting social injustice, or advancing the general welfare. The idea of freedom which is embodied in these great documents has overcome all attempts to turn them into a rigid set of rules to suppress freedom.

As we look toward the future, we must be sure that what we honor and venerate in these documents is not their words alone, but the ideas of liberty which they express. .

... The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence can live only as long as they are enshrined in our hearts and minds. If they are not so enshrined, they would be no better than mummies in their glass cases and they could, in time, become idols whose worship would be a grim mockery of the true faith. Only as these documents are reflected in the thoughts and acts of Americans, can they remain symbols of power that can move the world. That power, is our faith in human liberty. . ." Public Papers of President Harry S Truman

How are President Truman's remarks still relevant today? Does American government honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Support your answers with examples from events in the past five years.


Harry S truman

President Harry S. Truman

Constitution ms/hs Bill Of Rights hs Constitution Essays Bill of Rights ms Elections Constitution, Civics & History Projects

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posted 9/2006 In the spirit of Thomas Paine - released to public domain by Cynthia J. O'Hora

Aligned with the following Pa Academic Standards - Reading, Writing Speaking, History, Civics and Government, Civics, Science and Technology
Aligned with the National Standards for Civics and Government

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