Linda Neace and Rick Riley: Everyone should refresh their knowledge, renew appreciation for principles of freedom.

In 2004, Congress passed a law designating the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution as Constitution Day, and Sept. 17-23 of each year as Constitution Week.

A few of our founders had fascinating words to say that could help refresh and revive our own appreciation for the wisdom of those who crafted a document that has been the guiding influence for a government of, by and for the people.

James Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution" and fourth president of the United States, offered, "A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people." COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. PUBLIC DOMAIN - Howard Chandler Christy's oil painting on canvas hangs in the U.S. Capitol building.

George Washington said, "The power under the Constitution will always be in the people."

Benjamin Franklin opined, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We in America do not have government by the majority — we have government by the majority who participate. … All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

Refresh, renew and celebrate Sept. 17 each year as Constitution Day. Our work as a citizenry is to guard and maintain the defined purposes confined within its bold formation, and that drive continues. As Jefferson penned, "Instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." Noble intentions were predominant in minds of the founders and framers.

Numerous entities make pocket-size Constitutions available and is an easy search. We encourage everyone to refresh their knowledge, renew appreciation for the principles of freedom gifted to us, and celebrate our legacy every Sept. 17.

Linda Neace is president of the East Clackamas County Republican Women, and Rick Riley leads Take Back America's Clackamas County chapter.

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