by Marissa Lorenz
America’s Premier Constitution Week Celebration will take place next week in Grand Lake, including nationally-renowned speakers, a Constitution trivia contest, musical entertainment from the El Jebel Shrine Pipe band, and a flyover salute to “all veterans and first responders” by Peterson Air Force Base.
For the ninth year, residents and guests will gather to celebrate that most important American charter, meant to guide and unite both leaders and citizens in a common framework of governance.
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” …begins the 7,591-word document with amendments, formally signed this week in 1788.
The Grand Lake event itself began in 2012 with what founder Tom Goodfellow calls an “unforeseen opportunity,” when the town’s regular 4th of July fireworks were cancelled due to drought.
Goodfellow explains that the fireworks had already been purchased and so he began looking for an alternative use for them. He was interested in something historical in nature and, doing some web searching, found Constitution Week, “a national week of remembrance devoted to the education of the US Constitution” and adopted in 1956 by President Eisenhower and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
And so the Grand Lake US Constitution Week was realized with the mission of “Education, Promotion, and Celebration of the United States Constitution.”
That first event was put together in just six weeks and included three days of events, including speakers, a parade, activities in the park and, of course, the fireworks display. Over the course of its history, it has hosted about 35 speakers, offered nearly 60 presentations, and grown to be the largest organized event in the small mountain town, according to Goodfellow. “This would have not been possible without great volunteers, business owners and a giving community!”
Other memorable moments for Goodfellow include a meet-n-greet with former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, which sold 270 tickets, and a presentation by Dr. Thomas Krannawitter on slavery in America and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which forbid slavery.”
Remembering this last, Goodfellow recalls, “At a time when slavery was so prevalent in the world, here comes a tiny new country making a stand against slavery. Wow! As Dr. Krannawitter states, ‘The American founding was the beginning of the greatest anti-slavery movement in WORLD history. In one lifetime, slavery was abolished in the United States.”
“It should also be noted,” he continues, “that it was not just a white man’s problem. There were over 4 thousand black slave owners. Later on, I also heard that Indians owned slaves. Anyway–a fascinating talk.”
Clarke’s participation in 2016 also created some controversy, making political an event that has worked hard to remain bipartisan and work with both local Republican and Democratic parties.
But the real challenges of the event, says Goodfellow, have been garnering enough funding and then coordinating the event itself. “It is a 6-day event and with two programs per day, a luncheon and an evening event,” he explains.
“Packing everything up and moving twice a day reminds me of a moving circus. Our volunteers get it done!”
2020, of course, comes with the challenges of COVID19.
The event will have appropriate guidelines in place, but will move forward, “rain or shine.”
This year’s event is focused on those famous words by Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Highlights will
include a keynote speech by John Eastman, PhD., of the Claremont Institute, entitled “Recalling our country’s constitutional founding in the wake of COVID” and Kim Monson, of the Kim Monson radio show, speaking on “Suffragettes, Feminists, and Freedom Girls.”
Goodfellow encourages any who can to come and enjoy the free event. And for those unable to be there in person, he says, “Try to remember the ‘Spirit of the Constitution’–things like individual freedom, free speech and religion, free markets, sound money, etc–just some of the cornerstones of the Constitution. And perhaps focus on some of the successes in these turbulent times, as we continue our quest for ‘a more perfect union!’”
For more information and a complete schedule of events, running from Monday, September 14 through Friday, September 18, go to www. grandlakeusconstitutionweek.com.