Today we celebrate the 215th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Our signature artwork at the Freedom Museum, 12.15.1791 (see image to the left), marks this monumental event. The sculpture features a hanging timeline of paper-like metal plates with inscriptions of common people exercising their First Amendment rights from 1791 through present-day.
The 45 words of the First Amendment have weathered the test of time, as relevant in an age of individual pamphleteers of the colonial era as it is to an army of bloggers in the digital age. The five freedoms matter more now than ever as the mechanisms of communication evolve at an exponential pace, those 45 words buoying us through this raging sea.
When we construct a multi-denominational display representing a myriad of faiths during the holiday season we utitlize our freedom of religion.
When we wear a t-shirt denouncing the President or the Iraq war we exercise our freedom of speech.
When we publish our daily musings on indvidual web logs we invoke the freedom of the press.
When we gather at Federal Plaza in Chicago to protest current immigration policies we enjoy our freedom to assemble.
When we write our alderman to voice our disgust for the latest nanny state measure to pass the city council we use our freedom of petition.
Only by understanding, valuing, and exercising our five freedoms will we protect them for future generations. Bill of Rights Day is the perfect occasion to pay homage to the bellwether of freedom in America, the First Amendment.