April 1987 Home   Newsletters

September 1987

December 1987

League Honors Mason and Saunders
From the President (Anne Lee)
Meet the Board
Update: State Convention
Blessings of Liberty
New Education Position
Hawaii's Agriculture (Jim Koshi)
Drinking Water Perception Survey (Kiyoko Nitz)
Update: Natural Resources (Kiyoko Nitz)
Test Your Welfare I.Q.
State PMP: How We Compare
Update on Contributions

The Blessings of Liberty

Over the summer months the Hawaii League has been most visible due to our celebration of the U.S. Constitution bicentennial.

The LWV of Hawaii Education Fund and KHON-TV 2 co-sponsored a series of public service announcements which aired every day on a random basis. We have received many compliments on that project and hope you had a chance to see at least some of the spots. Inserted in this LEO HANA is a copy of all the scripts (below) and a copy of the Constitution compliments of the Ed Fund. Thanks are due to the law firm of Lowenthal, August, and Graham for their generous partial funding of this project.

At the same time, KHVH-Newsradio 99 has breoadcast a series of bicentennial celebration spots produced by Susan Brimo for the Hawaii League. It is clear that many people have heard Susan's wonderful broadcasts because we have received much praise for them.

Thanks to KHON-TV 2 and participants: Mitsuo Aoki, Ah Quon McElrath, Keo Sananikone, Patsy Mink, Dana Hall, Michael Levine, Admiral Ronald Hays, Corky Trinidad, Judge Herbert Y. C. Choy, Admiral Alfred Manning, Governor John Waihee, Al Dolata (script advisor), and Donna Coonse (Project Coordinator). The Committee members were Anne Lee, Pat Shutt, Laura Goo, Carol Whitesell, and Jerry Hess. Special mahalo to the law firm of Lowenthal, August, and Graham for their generous contribution.

Thanks to KHVH-Newsradio 99 and Susan Brimo.

We, the People of the United Mates, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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 ...

The Blessings of Liberty



The First Amendment declares: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The new nation that our fathers brought forth secured for all of us our religious liberty – that before the state, all religious beliefs and non-beliefs would be equal. The First Amendment also affirmed the unique American idea of separation between church and state; a confident proclamation that a great nation could exist and hold together without an official religious institution. The First Amendment, our first liberty, is the anchor of the American mind and the moral underpinnings of our nation. It gave our nation its soul. What a blessing of liberty.


The United States Constitution was written in clear, concise language and contained only seven articles. Since 1767, 26 amendments have been added. You can read the entire document in just a few minutes. The Constitution established our form of government, and set out by whom political power is given, how it is to be exercised, and how it is limited. Many clauses are not open to question, for example, elections are to be held every two years for Representatives and six years for Senators, and the President must be 35 years old. But there are words that can require interpretation. "Liberty" and "due process of law," for example may mean different things to different people, at different times. The constitutionally established independent judiciary provides interpretation relevant to the world of today.


As a writer, editor and teacher, the right to freely express thoughts in written and spoken language is especially important to me. The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech secures this fundamental right for each of us. Freedom of speech protects not only those opinions which we agree with, but those which challenge and oppose our way of thinking. This includes the right to criticize the government we live under, and its officials, without fear of punishment or censorship. I often disagree with governmental decisions, which I feel ignore or compromise the importance of preserving native Hawaiian lands and Hawaiian culture. The exercise of free speech is an essential element of social and political change. The First Amendment guarantees that our voices will be heard in our homes, in the streets and in the halls of government.


George Washington described it as "little short of a miracle." He was prophetic, for the Constitution sets out principles which guided our great nation for 200 years. But, those which we regard as inalienable rights are subject to threat. The framers of the Constitution knew that and provided for the common defense, for war is a frailty of mankind against which we must be vigilant. Congress is empowered to raise and support the armed services; the President to command. The Constitution is a remarkable frame of reference, but the picture of a free and independent nation requires a profile of strength. Only with it will we secure the blessings of liberty. As Benjamin Franklin put it, now you have a republic, if you-can keep it. Your military will do its part.


The Constitution protects the rights of those accused of crime. This is not because the founders favored criminals, but because they sought to protect the innocent from arbitrary, over zealous or oppressive government. To redress the balance in the contest between the power of the state and the accused individual, the Constitution guarantees each of us freedom from unreasonable search or arrest, the right to a lawyer's help in our defense, the right to a trial held in public, not in secret, and the right to be judged by a jury of our fellow citizens, not by the police or prosecutors. Countries that do not have these rights are often dictatorships or police states. Although thankful for our Constitution, we must never take our precious rights for granted. We must always be vigilant to protect the safeguards of our liberty.


In 1947 the ILWU challenged Hawaii's century old riot and assembly act, asserting violations of the freedoms of speech, press and assembly of striking sugar workers, thus preventing them from making their grievances known. The union also challenged the composition of the Maui grand jury, which had indicted 16 pineapple workers, as not representative, impartial, or democratic. The legislature repealed the old law because a court declared the act unconstitutional. Juries are no longer weighted with one ethnic group, social class or sex. Remember: the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are ours only if we are willing to challenge contraventions of our liberties.


During America's struggle for independence, those who smuggled goods into the colonies, to avoid British taxes, were looked upon as patriots. After the revolution, however, many smugglers continued to operate in order to avoid American taxes. Within three years of the signing of the Constitution, the lack of tax revenues brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy. America needed those tax revenues to stay afloat. To solve the problem, President Washington ordered the construction of ten armed cutters to patrol America's coast-line and enforce customs laws. Thus, on August 4, 1790, the Revenue Cutter Service was created. Over the last 197 years, that small service grew and evolved into today's Coast Guard. Under our constitution, our government has the ability to enforce its tax laws and treaties, and protect the lives, and property, of its citizens in order to preserve our precious liberties.


The Constitution and its Amendments protect us against injustice and prejudice. It contains a dynamic set of principles to live and work by. One of the most important of these is our right to vote, and yet, not all of us have always enjoyed it. Black Americans were not free to vote until after the civil war and the ratification of the 15th Amendment. Even then, it took passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and massive civil disobedience before blacks could freely vote without fear of intimidation and harassment. And only after nearly 70 years of humiliation and struggle did women win the right to vote in 1920. This right became the 19th Amendment. Our right to vote seems self-evident. But it isn't. We've fought for it. Let's make sure it's well used and appreciated.


As an immigrant, I am privileged to share with you my deep feelings about the blessings of liberty in America. I first came to this county in 1968 as a high school student. From my personal experience, I know that there are millions of people outside of the United States who yearn for peace, freedom, justice and other basic human rights which we Americans enjoy under the protections of the United States Constitution. When you have been born and raised in a foreign country such as I was, and have had to earn the right to be called an American, you appreciate it much more. To be an American is a privilege that I will never take for granted. I renew once again my pledge of allegiance to America and to all the basic human rights and values that the Constitution seeks to protect.


Thomas Jefferson once wrote that if he had to decide between a government without newspapers, or a newspaper without a government, he would prefer the latter. He may have been exaggerating, but he was emphasizing the need for the free flow of information, ideas, and opinions to our way of life and form of government. He knew that the survival of a democracy depends on a free press. This very foundation of our country can't be forgotten or taken for granted. Like myself, an immigrant Filipino cartoonist. No day passes without the realization that in other countries people are jailed for doing the work I do here in America. Freedom of press is our right. Mine. Yours. Every-ones. It's a people's right. The media just reflect that right and guard it.


When our Constitution was written during that hot and muggy Philadelphia summer of 1787, there were many lively and often heated debates on the issues. But on the wording of the preamble the delegates all agreed: We the people of the United States of America, 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. The preamble makes it clear that the vital interests of the nation belong to its people. We may delegate our power, but it cannot be taken from us. The course of the nation is our responsibility.

Celebrating the Constitution. A Project of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii Education Fund and KHON-TV2. Partial funding provided by Lowenthal, August and Graham, attorneys at Law. 49 South Hotel Street #314 Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 • (808) 531-7448

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