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Quote of the day
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Published Friday, November 16, 2012 @ 8:14 AM EST
Nov 16 2012

I'm worried that once Texas realizes this secession thing is retarded, they'll execute themselves.
-Johnny McNulty


Categories: Quotes of the day


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You skipped over the good part
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Published Friday, November 16, 2012 @ 2:09 AM EST
Nov 16 2012

There are really only two small sections of the Unites States Constitution that I've memorized. There's the last part of Article VI:

"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States."

The emphasis is mine, and identifies the only place in the entire document where the word "ever" appears. This is handy when dealing with those who refuse to acknowledge the founders' intent to keep religion and government separate. I mean, what part of "ever" don't you understand?

And I also know the Preamble.

Boy, do I know the Preamble.

I recited it for a Veterans Day program in Homestead's Frick Park in 1962. I remember it was cold, and I was wearing my Cub Scout uniform. And I didn't make any mistakes, because I had been studying it, living with it, for an entire month.

I learned the Preamble from Margaret McGeever, the principal of my elementary school. And when Margaret McGeever taught you something, you not only memorized it, mastered it, and could recite it on command, you assimilated it into your very DNA structure. It left a virtual, indelible mark on your psyche, not unlike the actual physical hand print of hers that I still have on my left shoulder, a result of The Bell Telephone Movie Incident In The Auditorium.

Miss McGeever not only principaled, she taught drama. She emphasized that the Preamble was not a jumble of words to be hurriedly recited in a dull monotone. It had to be read correctly, with a combination of zeal, reverence and perfect enunciation. "This is the very foundation of who we are," she rumbled in her high-pitched yet gravelly voice. "Just fifty-two words that define who we are."

And I learned them. Really learned them. I spent a half hour every day finding the words in the huge dictionary in her office and transferring their definitions to sheets of blue-ruled white bond paper, the good stuff we used when taking our penmanship tests.

It took me more than a week. She looked through the sheets. She stacked them, placed her folded hands on the neat pile, then gazed at me over the top of her glasses.

I froze. It was not the look of satisfaction I had expected.

Her brow was furrowed. Actually, it was always furrowed; the woman had the forehead of a Shar Pei. But the creases were even deeper, and her voice was sharp.

"Mister Barkes," she intoned. "Your work is not acceptable. You have forgotten one very important word: Preamble. You've managed to omit the title of the work."

I looked at the copy of the Constitution I held in my pudgy, shaking hands. I didn't see the word "preamble" anywhere.

"You won't see the word 'preamble' anywhere," Miss McGeever said, which was simultaneously comforting and terrifying. "I don't see your name written anywhere on your body, but I know who are, and if I were to write about you, I would certainly put your name at the beginning."

"Preamble," she said. "An introduction. From the Latin 'pre', meaning 'before', and 'ambulare', to walk. Literally, to walk before, or to lead. 'Ambulare' is interesting. So many English words are derived from Latin. What English words come from 'ambulare'?"

"Ambulance?" I asked. She nodded. "Amble?" She nodded again.

I was blank. "Do you know what they call baby strollers in England?,"

"Prams?" I replied. "Right. Pram is English slang for perambulator. 'Per' from the Latin through or for, and 'ambulator' from..."

"Ambulare!" This was fun.

Miss McGeever spent the next half hour listing Latin antecedents ("ante-", before; "cedere", to go) for English words. I was sorry when the end of day bell sounded.

"I'll tell Miss Sullivan she has a prospective Latin student," she said, smiling. Miss Sullivan taught first year Latin in ninth grade at the junior high school.

Then the smile disappeared. The stack of Preamble words reappeared. "Review them. We'll have a verbal quiz on Monday."

Wait. Where was I?

Wow. I hate when I have one of those Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time moments.

Right. The Constitution.

There are a lot of people who say the Constitution has but one purpose: to restrict the federal government and limit its power. Anything not explicitly covered within its original 4,543 words and subsequent amendments should not even be considered.

I think they're missing the big picture. Miss McGeever explained it quite well. I remember her florid cursive writing on the blackboard:

Who are "We"? The people of the United States of America.

What do we want? We want to:

1. Form a more perfect Union. (The Articles of Confederation just weren't working.)

2. Establish justice.

3. Insure domestic tranquility.

4. Provide for the common defense.

6. Promote the general Welfare.

7. Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. (We're serious about this.)

How are we going to do this?

We do ordain (from the Latin ordinare, to arrange or order) and establish (from the Latin stabilire, to make stable) this Constitution (from the Latin constituo, to confirm, arrange, decide) of the United (L. unus, one, a union) States (L. status, fixed, set) of America.(Mod.L. Americanus, after Amerigo Vespucci).

Pretty straightforward.

Sometimes I think this guy must have been one of Miss McGeever's students. And after this past election, I know how he feels:


Categories: History, KGB Opinion, Observations, Politics, Star Trek, U.S. Constitution, Video, William Shatner, YouTube


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