Every day I begin my class with a flag salute and a discussion of the Constitution. I tell my fifth-graders how great our nation is because we have Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Religion, Press, and the ability to redress grievances to our elected officials. That each and every one of them is a precious citizen.
I say, “No matter what your background in this country, you have equal rights under the law.”
But on Thursday one student asked, “But aren’t some religions illegal?”
I looked at him, confused. “No, of course not.”
Another child raised her hand. “Yes, Ms. Woodward. Those terrorist ones. I saw it on the news.”
Then I realized what the kids were thinking. I started to say that it was impossible, the Constitution was the highest law of the land, even if someone said that on the news, it couldn’t really happen.
My class looked at me doubtfully. That’s when I realized that maybe they were right. Perhaps someone was trying to deny certain people equality. And it gave me a sick feeling deep in my heart.
I am a patriot. I love America. To me the Constitution is one of the most inspirational documents of all time. One worth fighting for. We must continue to say, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I believe these ideals should guide our choices as educators and citizens. Keep the Constitution safe. For our children.