Friday, June 22, 2007

yesterday in history

How foolish was I yesterday? Periodically, I post "Today in History" items that I find interesting, and also because I've received feedback that others find it interesting as well. Then, I foolishly let June 21 slide by with no comment! Let's correct that today, on the 22nd.

June 21, 1788--- The U.S. Constitution was officially ratified when New Hampshire became the ninth and last state necessary to vote for ratification. See

June 21, 1964--- In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights field workers disappeared after investigating the burning of an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men garnered national attention and led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for "Mississippi Burning." Exactly 41 years later, on June 21, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter for the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. Eighty-year-old Killen, known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

These three dates in history--June 21 of 1788, 1968 and 2005--are linked, in my opinion. One of the key building blocks in the foundation of America, and the Constitution that governs America, is the rule of law. Our government is constrained by the rule of law. Our elected officials are constrained by the rule of law. Man's conduct towards others is ruled by law. It is this rule of law that helps to preserve freedom in America. We are free because no man, even a man holding high public office, is allowed to violate the law.

The rule of law is a principle that was codified by the Constitution. That is the principle that was flouted by the men in power in Neshoba County back in 1964. That is the principle that was reasserted by the civil rights victories of the 1960's, and by the 2005 verdict that brought Edgar Ray Killen to justice.

There has never, in the history of the world, been a nation with a perfect record of upholding the rule of law. By the same token, there has never been a nation as successful as the United States of America in upholding that principle, or in correcting past violations of that principle. It is for that reason, among others, that there has never been a nation of people as free as the people of America. We are truly blessed, and we should be thankful.


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