Please note — feedback received from some newspapers suggests that they do not always favor verbatim Op-Ed type sample letters even if they approve the content, and so may choose not to publish. It is felt that simply signing a ready-made letter is a sort of 'cheat'. It would be better perhaps to use a sample letter as a basis but craft a personalized version, so as to avoid this criticism, which is most likely to occur when the same letter is received multiple times. This might help ensure best results.
Do you celebrate America's civil holidays? Do you cherish your rights and freedoms as an American? If so, then you will want a special day to remember the foundation for all of them: Bill of Rights Day. Here's why:
1. The Bill of Rights is a major part of the "American way of life." America's civic holidays -- the Birthdays of Washington, Lincoln, and King, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day -- all remind us of the special contributions and sacrifices made by our forefathers and leaders to preserve, protect, and extend our freedoms. Each of these civic holidays exists because someone cared enough to fight and die for our rights -- the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.
2. The Bill of Rights energizes our military defense. American service men and women swear and oath to preserve and defend the Bill of Rights . . . it is part of the Constitution. When American military people fight and die for our country, they do so to protect our rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights.
3. The Bill of rights might otherwise be forgotten. Many or most Americans do not know their Bill of Rights. A special day would encourage even the government schools to teach about it for at least one day per year.
4. Bill of Rights Day would declare America's commitment to fundamental human rights to the whole world.
5. Just as celebrating the Jewish and Christian Holy Days reminds Americans of these religious beliefs and traditions, Bill of Rights Day would annually remind America of how its history and philosophy have produced the rights which oppressed peoples everywhere still long for.
6. Bill of Rights Day would be a super Memorial Day. It would honor the personal sacrifices and deaths of countless millions of people who struggled for basic human and civil rights for the last thousand years.
7. Bill of Rights Day would help force today's politicians to take a stand for or against fundamental American rights.
8. Bill of Rights Day would remind prosecutors, bureaucrats, and judges that their authority and power are limited.
9. Bill of Rights Day would remind all members of government that they serve the citizens, not rule them -and that the citizens always retain the right to stop government from becoming a monster.
10. Bill of Rights Day would help Americans on the political left, center, and right see how we all share common core values -- and how we must all work together to keep our government on a short leash.
Let us hear from you when your city celebrates Bill of Rights Day. Yours for liberty, Aaron Zelman
Sample Op-ed Piece
The United States of America might never have existed without one thing: the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights limits the power of the government and protects the rights of the people. It was so important that several of the original 13 states would not ratify the Constitution without it.
Nearly everything that makes an American proud to be one comes from the Bill of Rights. Freedoms to speak, print, read, assemble, pray, petition the government, keep and bear arms. Protection from unreasonable arrests and searches, excessive bail, double jeopardy, coerced confessions, cruel and unusual punishment. Rights to due process, jury trials, counsel, and to present defense witnesses. These are the freedoms and rights that define America.
Surprisingly, Americans do not celebrate the foundation of our political freedom, the Bill of Rights -- but we should. After all, the Bill of Rights is part of our Constitution, it is what our military people pledge to serve and die for. It is uniquely American. People on the political left, center, and right can all rally around the Bill of Rights because it expresses our shared basic values.
On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified and has since protected American citizens for 206 years. We should celebrate December 15 every year. By officially designating December 15 as Bill of Rights Day, we would be reminding our fellow citizens and younger generations of our heritage. Bill of Rights Day would declare America's commitment to civil and human rights to the world. The special day would annually remind politicians, bureaucrats, prosecutors, and judges that their authority and power are limited -- that the government serves us Americans, it does not rule us.
December 15, Bill of Rights Day, reminds us of the liberty we have and what it costs to keep it. By celebrating Bill of Rights Day every year, perhaps we shall never forget.
Sample Op-ed Piece
The Bill of Rights defines America. Why don't we celebrate it?
The Constitution of the United States would never have become the law of the land without the Bill of Rights. Several states refused to join the Union unless there was a Bill of Rights to limit the federal power and protect individual rights. Why don't we celebrate it?
The Bill of Rights guarantees fundamental civil and human rights: the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion; protections against unreasonable searches and coerced confessions; rights to counsel and a jury trial. For these rights and freedoms people have struggled for centuries. The Bill of Rights remains a beacon to freedom-loving people worldwide. Why don't we celebrate it?
The Bill of Rights does more: it defines the limits of government power. More directly than any other single document of law, the Bill of Rights stands between tyranny and liberty. Refugees flee to the United States, not for its "three separate branches of government," not for its arrangement of senators and representatives, but for its liberty. The foundation of that liberty is the Bill of Rights. Why don't we celebrate it?
We have special days for the birthdays of great leaders, to remember special events, and to honor our military services. But all of these remarkable people and events aimed to advance the cause of liberty -- the cause of the Bill of Rights.
Let's celebrate it! Every town, city, and state should designate one day as Bill of Rights Day. The logical date would be December 15, because on that date in 1791 the Bill of Rights was finally ratified. Just one day per year, let us fly the flag, put up a poster, and most important of all: read the Bill of Rights. And read it to our kids, in libraries, in schools, in homes.
Let's celebrate December 15 as Bill of Rights Day, and declare our support for all of the Bill of Rights for all citizens. We owe it to our forefathers, and we owe it to our kids.
Things to Do to Promote Bill of Rights Day
1. Show Bill of Rights or Bust (trailer can be viewed here). Have a private viewing or show it to your local religious group or civic organization. Show it at a school or library. Go direct to the JPFO Store to purchase the movie.
Refresh yourself on the contents of the Bill of Rights.
Read and share the explanatory text, discussion questions, and dangers to the Bill of Rights .
Read the "Bill of Rights Culture.
2. Write a letter to the editor.
3. Call (or write to) a talk show.
- Ask the host whether he/she has heard of the Bill of Rights Day ("BORD") movement If a guest is speaking on a related subject of rights, Constitution, etc, call in to ask whether guest has heard of BORD
- Suggest that the host contact JPFO to arrange interview
4. Write to local elected officials.
- Send information & sample resolution
- Urge that he/she offer a resolution for BORD
5. Offer BORD concept at local civic or social club.
- Call secretary of organization to put BORD on agenda of "new business" Give brief discussion at meeting; show sample resolution
- Use JPFO BORD materials as handout at meeting, if desired
6. Contact a friendly member of school board.
- Send information & sample resolution Urge school board to pass resolution Urge school board to direct schools to study Bill of Rights Propose a BORD writing competition for students (offer a prize) Prize idea: cash Prize idea: free product or service from your business Prize idea: recognition and certificate from your civic org
- Combination of the above -- or ... be creative!
7. Sponsor a BORD writing or speech competition in your child's public or private school (contact school directly -- see item 5 above for ideas). 8. Contact a "local access" cable channel programmer who is putting on educational or current affairs shows.
- Ask if BORD would fit into goals of the program Offer to talk about it on the program, or
- Suggest interview with JPFO
9. Contact local public library.
- Suggest that they put out a Bill of Rights display during the week leading up to Dec. 15 Ask them to allow you to place a BORD Poster up on display during same week
- Put on your own BORD discussion in library's meeting room
10. In your workplace, cubicle, workbench, store window, etc. (if permitted):
- Post BORD poster Wear BORD button Wear BORD sweater or T-shirt
- Place Gran'pa Jack's Common Sense for display
11. Place BORD bumper stickers on all of your vehicles. 12. Post messages on all of the computer bulletin boards and newsgroups where it would be appropriate.
- About BORD
- About Gran'pa Jack's Common Sense
Whenever asked, answer that your motivation is to:
- Educate Americans about the Bill of Rights
- Preserve all of the Bill of Rights for all citizens
Letter to the Editor
Recently I learned about a movement to establish December 15 as Bill of Rights Day. I would like to urge our town to celebrate the Bill of Rights for several reasons.
First, the Bill of Rights declares the idea that makes America unique. We have rights as individuals, it says, and government must respect them. Most other countries do not have a constitution with such a clear statement.
Second, our Constitution would not have become the law of land without the Bill of Rights. Several states refused to join the Union unless the Bill of Rights was included. When Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791, only then could the United States become a new nation.
Third, our military men and women have served, fought, and died to preserve the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. To celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 would annually remind us of how their sacrifices preserved not just "the country," but some very specific guarantees of liberty.
Fourth, an annual Bill of Rights day would remind all members of government -- policemen, prosecutors, bureaucrats, judges, and politicians -- that government exists to serve, not to rule, the people.
Whether as individuals we are on the political Left or Right, whether we care passionately for one particular right or another, we should come together to celebrate our core values. Our civic core values lie in the Bill of Rights. We should set aside at least one day each year to read and ponder the rights we sometimes take for granted. What American could oppose the concept of preserving all of the Bill of Rights for all citizens?