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Documents of our Existence
By Elizabeth Horner  
September  5, 2011 

I have been to Washington D.C. three times.  My first trip was with my 8th grade school field trip.  The second time, I met U.S. Congressman Steve Austria in an event in Dayton, Ohio where he invited me to visit his office and tour the US Capitol Building.  My third trip happened because I bugged my mother enough about wanting to see the National Archives and the Library of Congress, since I did not have the opportunity to visit them in my earlier two trips. 

Those two buildings house something that represents so much of us!  It is a part of who we are today.  I would not mind moving in and living inside the Library of Congress for a few months.  It would be great just to have the opportunity to read some of the rarest historical books. 

This article though is about the three important documents in our National Archives: the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and our Bill of Rights encased under high security protective glass at the Rotunda of that building. While the reproduction of those documents can easily be purchased for a few dollars from the Archives Shop, and are much more readable than the original, there is something truly hair-raising about actually glancing at the original documents signed by our forefathers, who were responsible for our very existence as a country. 

It is obvious that age and time have taken their toll on these documents, although utmost protection and preservation efforts have been undertaken. I just hope that with the passage of time, as environmental conditions dim and fade the words penned on those documents, that its meaning and value in our lives will remain as stalwart as ever.  

September 17 marks the anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution during a convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that occurred centuries ago, in 1787.  It is not the responsibility for one person, one group, or one generation to uphold and keep its importance feverishly burning.  It is something intended to be passed on to all generations to come. The youth of today will be taking the place of their parents and grandparents in the future.  It is important that we learn the historical importance of this event.  It is important that we uphold their chosen virtues --- “establish[ing] Justice, insur[ing] domestic Tranquility, provid[ing] for the common defense, promot[ing] the general Welfare, and secur[ing] the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. 

On August 28, 2011, I was conferred as youth chairperson of NaFFAA for nine Midwestern States.  My platform is to encourage our youth to be active, productive members of the community through “youth empowerment, skill/asset building, and love and respect for those virtues penned in our Constitution”.  Undoubtedly being young and human, my peers and I will make some mistakes but like Annie Oakley said, only “practice, practice, practice” --- of doing our very best and learning how to overcome mistakes, obstacles and failures in life that will allow us to “hit the bull’s eye of success”!

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