On October 18th Mary Stromberg, a grandmother from Auburn, Alabama wrote a letter to every educator in her state asking this question. Here is her letter:
I have been pondering the signing of the Military Commissions Act all
yesterday and today......I can't imagine what we will tell our school
children about the change in the constitution. I am involved in church
committees that will deal with high school and college aged students and
we will be asked how this new law affects us as a country and as
It occurs to me that whatever wording we choose should be consistent
and clear. This will affect high school and college courses, church
groups, and civic groups who are attempting to pass on high minded civic
Many Americans like Mary are wondering what kind of world we will leave for our children;
if any trace of America's proud tradition of individual rights will remain as a heritage to future generations. These are questions that need asking.
They call it the Military Commissions Act; some whisper that it really should be The Torture Act. It was proposed by George W. Bush to provide a retroactive defense for war crimes carried out against POWs, innocent civilians, and American citizens held without ever having been charged with a crime. What they call it does not matter. The names should not confuse us.
It is wrong;this is an attempt to circumvent the means by which our Constitution is amended. All of those involved know that to be the case. Congress passed two acts, one in the House and one in the Senate, that have rescinded the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. This must not stand because no legitimate American government can rescind the inherent rights of Americans and this is what has been attempted.
America has been a beacon of hope for the entire world since its founding, not because of the economic opportunities found here but because America began with a vision that resonates with what each of us knows is true. We are each born free no matter what others might say or do.
America came into existence as an act of faith in God, through actions undertaken in the face of seeming impossibilities. A small population challenged the most powerful force on Earth and won. Our Founders believed in, lived and died for the idea that each of us is free, not through government but before any government existed, free in the sight of God no matter what their condition might be through the acts of man.
America was founded as the point of light and faith for a humanity who hungered for individual freedom. The Revolution was fought by individuals, men who went to war, women who lived in the line of fire, providing the supplies that kept soldiers from starvation. They left us a legacy for freedom but they could not make us free. We were already free in the eyes of God.
Those who fought the Revolution understood that freedom was something they must affirm for themselves. Those now dead left us that legacy, the memory that we are free but the affirmation of that freedom remains ours to keep. We must do for ourselves.
Government did not make us free. It cannot rescind our freedoms as affirmed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
No one ever said that it was safe to be free or that we might not have to work and fight to maintain that freedom.
Congress voted; George Bush signed a paper. We are still free but government has shown it does not respect the rights given to us by God.
This is not the first time this has happened. During the Civil War the Congress passed a nearly identical law. It was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. But in the interrum people were incarcerated, tortured, and the fabric of trust on which America relies was shredded beyond recognition. That this precedent is well understood by those in power we know. They chose to sign it on the anniversary of the Act that rescinded the rights of Americans during the Civil War. They know. We have no reason to assume that they will stop there.
Mary Stromberg asked what our children be told about their rights as Americans in the schools we pay for that are controlled by the government that has acted as if it could cancel our rights? We know that already. They will be told this has happened before so there is precedent. They will not be told it was found to be unconstitutional. Americans no longer control the schools for which we all pay.
Honest questions deserve honest answers. This morning Mary received one response from an educator in Alabama. This educator is a former instructor on the Constitution who understood. The woman, now in administration, admitted that teachers will be forced to comply with the mandates that are provided by the powers that be. Those powers have already spoken. We know what to expect.
Thomas Jefferson drew from many sources as he considered the substance of individual freedom. One of those sources was the Iroquois Nation. For the Iroquois war was a serious matter. Lives were at risk and could be lost. Therefore those who made the final decision for war were those most invested in the cost that could be exacted. Those were mothers, mothers who would send sons off to fight and to perhaps die.
When you understand the truth of our inherent rights and the founding of America there is nothing you can say to a child or adult that justifies the actions of those in Congress who voted for this act against all Americans. There is no justification, no excuse, no possible explanation. We became a nation by overlooking the impossibility of winning the Revolution. While this Congress is sitting we should not fear terror from afar; the greatest threat to America today is walking the halls of power in Washington D. C.
One grandmother from Alabama has spoken out and taken action. Soon she will be joined by many others, also angry and concerned. It is time for us to come together. This is not a political questions but one that cuts to the heart of all that it means to be an American.
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Independent. That no longer matters. It will take all of us to enact change.
Mary Stromberg asked a question and has heard one answer. That is a beginning. Ask your own educators what they will say to our children. They need to know we will not be silent. Their answers will tell us what must come next.