Sept. 17 was, and will continue to be an anniversary, one few people are aware of, let alone honor.It was Sept. 17, 1782 when 39 delegates from 12 delegations approved for ratification the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution became effective nine months later, June 21, 1788, after New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it.

Since that time the Constitution has been an inspiration to most of the free world and to other peoples and nations who recognized the potential for individual liberty and personal responsibility that the document made possible under a system of laws, not men. It became a model for other nations to follow in developing their own constitutions.

Yet, there can be no denying there were flaws. The most glaring was that it explicitly excluded some people from its protection while allowing for the exclusion of others. Indians were considered the enemy to be lied to and cheated, treated horrifically despite treaties. A black slave was considered three-fifths of a person and that for apportionment only. He had no rights. Women were denied equal rights simply because of their gender.

More than 200 years later the nation is still trying to get things right from those omissions and errors.

There were other flaws, flaws that allowed for contradictory interpretations that have led to this incredible document being twisted and mangled to make it seem to mean whatever a given politician or group wants to say it means. But that is likely more a flaw of human nature rather than the Constitution.

But what is it that made the Constitution so valuable, so different within the world of governments and human affairs?

It set for a framework of government, a skeleton, that established the separation of the three basic branches of government so that each branch could - if needed - be a check on the usurpation of power by any other branch.

(Wouldn't it be a delight if those elected to office actually honored tat responsibility instead of playing party politics?)

Yet, the true hallmark was that it made those in government accountable to the laws of the land instead of being above the law as had been and remains the case in so many other societies and forms of government. It limited the powers of the government, giving it only powers expressly delegated to it, thus leaving the people - or most men anyway - free to work, build and create, taking risks and earning the reward for productive effort and bearing the responsibility for their own failure.

The Constitution guarantees a republican form of government, one in which the people may do whatever is not prohibited, while the government may do only that which it is expressly allowed to do.

Such is the essence of a free society and the promise underlying the U.S. Constitution.

It would be fitting in this election year for people to read the Constitution and then not only listen that candidates say, but compare what they say to the Constitution says. Try it.

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