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What does Memorial Day mean to us?
As this Memorial Day is coming to a close, I’m reflecting on what our brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces have fought and died for. We often take for granted what an amazing country we live in and what makes it so amazing. Of course, we are a melting pot…a nation of immigrants and natives. We are an incredibly strong people. Other countries also have these qualities. I believe what truly sets us apart is our Constitution and, specifically, the Bill of Rights. It was an amazing addition to an already very powerful document.
The First Amendment gave us the freedom of religion – where the government cannot favor one religion over another; the freedom of speech – right to criticize the government when we believe they are doing something wrong; the freedom of the press – so that there is always an outside body to investigate anything; and the freedom of assembly – so that we are able to associate with whomever we please.
The Second Amendment gave us the right to bear arms – so that we may protect ourselves and supplement our armed forces in the form of a state militia.
The Third Amendment is the least controversial…ever. It prevents the government from forcing you to house soldiers in your home. It has never been the subject of a Supreme Court decision.
The Ninth Amendment specifies that the specified rights in the Constitution are not exhaustive and the Tenth Amendment reserves other powers to the states.
The balance of the Bill of Rights are what a criminal defense lawyer fights for every day – the right to privacy in our homes and effects, the right to due process of law, to not be compelled to testify against oneself, the freedom from double jeopardy, the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, the right to confront your accuser, the right to assistance of counsel, to be free from excessive bail and fines, and to be free from cruel and unusual punishments.
As we drift off to sleep after a weekend of barbeque and family, please remember those who have given their lives for these freedoms. We owe them a debt we can never repay. May God bless them all and those who love them.