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The Washington Times
September 18, 2006

Washington Times Op-ed—Preserving Constitution our Duty

Note: This column originally appeared in the Washington Times on Sept. 18, 2006:

by J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

Yesterday was Constitution Day, and today, many organizations across the country are celebrating the U.S. Constitution, which has endured for almost 220 years and has provided the most successful form of government ever devised.

The fact that the Constitution has survived is a testament to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who established a system that secured individual rights, with a feature not found in any other governmental system—one that allows for amendments.

The United States is very different in 2006 than it was in 1787, and yet the principles articulated by the founders still are recognized and supported. The present generation owes a debt of gratitude to the men who drafted the Constitution and enabled successive generations to live in freedom.

It is the responsibility of each generation, however, to preserve this system. Generation Joshua, founded in 2004 as a division of the Home School Legal Defense Association, aims to educate teens on the history of the country as well as organize students to directly affect the direction of the country.

In recognition of Constitution Day, more than 460 Generation Joshua teens are participating today in a mock Constitutional Convention in Purcellville, Va. The goal is to re-enact the convention’s key debates using James Madison’s notes and show how the Constitution was born from vigorous and contentious debate.

Few people appreciate the intense feelings that were exhibited on all sides. In fact, the convention almost collapsed because of the sharp divides. Benjamin Franklin called for a day of prayer when everyone would seek God and His wisdom before continuing the discussion.

Generation Joshua teens will relive the ebb and flow of debate and learn how the Constitution was formed. The reasons behind the final decisions also are important to remember because everyone came to the table with his own ideas. Through the re-enactment, it is hoped that the students will gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of the country and have a base upon which to build their civic participation.

Knowledge of the founders’ reasons for establishing a nation of the people, rather than a government to control the people, will set the foundation for understanding what makes America unique. Once this has been established, it is likely that an individual will see how precious, and valuable, it is to maintain liberty, which will lead the individual to become involved in public action to defend what has been given to us.

The primary way the people’s voice is heard is through elections. The Constitution prescribes the timing of elections, and with the 2006 general election just a few weeks away, the people again will make their voices heard.

Under the banner of HSLDA PAC, almost 2,000 Generation Joshua members will fan out across the country and spend a week volunteering for pro-home-schooling and pro-family candidates. Intensive door-to-door campaigning, making phone calls and distributing literature are key activities that can make a difference on Election Day.

These teens have decided to step forward to preserve the system of government that was given to us. It is only with the active participation of citizens that a society that respects freedom can be maintained. Each generation has the task of learning what makes our country unique and participating in the electoral process in order for wise people to be elected to public office.

The young people of Generation Joshua believe the country can be improved dramatically with principled leadership. It remains to be seen whether the current generation will grow up to be one of America’s greatest generations, but the goal of Generation Joshua is to prepare a new generation for leadership, some of whom may indeed become national leaders, and maintain the nation’s principles of liberty and self-determination.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to

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