In our time it seems to be a commemoration honored more in the breach than in the observance, judging by the latest piece of rights-infringing legislation that's on its way to President Obama for signature. Nevertheless, it's an important anniversary, even if most of us ignore it.
On Aug. 21, 1941, a joint resolution of Congress called on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to designate a day in honor of the Bill of Rights. FDR subsequently called on government officials to fly the flag and for all Americans to “observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and prayer.”
An appropriate celebration was planned at the Waldorf Astoria. Nine days after FDR’s proclamation, though, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and everything else took a back seat to World War II. This was the holiday that got away, and it’s never been properly recognized since.
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The irony is that most of us honor the Fourth of July because we believe it’s a day on which Americans secured their freedom. But the truth is that the Declaration of Independence really only secured freedom for white and wealthy men. It took freedom of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly — the five freedoms of the First Amendment — to lead to suffrage for women, the emancipation of slaves and equality for all.
There's more at the link.
Cato At Liberty sums up the present precarious position of the rights recognized by (note: not conferred by, but recognized as pre-existing by and enshrined in) the Bill Of Rights.
The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” Government officials, however, have insisted that they can gag recipients of “national security letters” and censor broadcast ads in the name of campaign finance reform.
The Second Amendment says the people have the right “to keep and bear arms.” Government officials, however, make it difficult to keep a gun in the home and make it a crime for a citizen to carry a gun for self-protection.
The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners. This safeguard is one of the few that is in fine shape — so we can pause here for a laugh.
The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist that they can conduct commando-style raids on our homes and treat airline travelers like prison inmates by conducting virtual strip searches.
Again, more at the link.
I submit that the most appropriate way of celebrating this anniversary is for each and every one of us to commit ourselves, jointly and severally, to resist any further encroachment by 'Big Brother' upon our rights, and to fight to reclaim those illegitimately usurped by said 'Big Brother' over the past few decades. If we work together, it's a fight we can ultimately win . . . but it'll be a costly struggle, and more than a few of us are likely to be targeted by 'Big Brother' in the process.
That, as we forget all too easily, is the price one has to pay for liberty - a price paid by all too many of our forefathers, including those who composed the Bill Of Rights in the first place. They'd paid in blood and suffering for their liberties, and wanted us to keep them. They'd be horrified to see how many of the rights they won for us have been abrogated altogether, or at least severely watered down, since their time - and they'd be disgusted with us, their descendants, for allowing that to happen.