So what’s a few Jews to do on Christmas Eve day? Not go anywhere near a shopping center, that’s for sure.
We took the girls to Philadelphia to the National Constitution Center. They protested a bit on the way, they’re still at that “it has to be targeted to kids” age. But Eric insisted, and we’re all glad he did.
It was fantastic, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re anywhere near Philly. They have a special Ben Franklin exhibit that was amazing. It’s not just about looking at the art and artifacts (although that was a big deal…they have items from Ben Franklin’s home and one-of-a-kind originals of documents he wrote). The exhibit tells a story about the man and the work he did and how it all fit into the founding of our country. I learned so much today. It’s mind boggling to think of a man who had 2 years of formal education who is largely responsible for, or had great influence on, what we now know about libraries, hospitals, post offices, fire departments, universities not to mention the whole kite & key thing. The exhibit tracked his life from when he first arrived in Boston, to his bringing in the French to help fight the British in the Revolutionary War to his part in the writing of the constitution and Bill of Rights.
After going through the Franklin exhibit we watched a movie and then went through the permanent exhibit space. Very well done. You go through the exhibit in chronological order, tracing the history of the constitution through the history of our government from the late 1700s to today. Through the center are interactive elements that the kids really got into. In one section, you sat in a mock-up of the Supreme Court bench and “decided” cases on video screens in front of you. The case was explained, and then you got to pick how you would decide the case. After, the narrator explained why the court decided what they did along with excerpts of the opinions read by actors. The exhibit explained how the Supreme Court is selected and that they only hear 100 cases a year out of the 7,000 or so presented to them. Over dinner, we talked a great deal about the Texas vs. Johnson case which was presented in the exhibit (about flag burning) and Emily (7.5 years old) asked a lot of good questions.
Each branch of government was given the complete treatment…the powers of the President. How Congress is put together. How amendments are decided. How did women get to vote. How slavery ended. What are states rights. Fascinating stuff.
You know in movies where the hero has a big moral judgment to make and they show him standing there staring at the Lincoln Memorial for a while and that leads him to make the “right” choice? I felt that. The exhibit made the founding documents of our country pure. No Democrats. No Republicans. Just “We The People.” The Constitution is one amazing document. So complex, yet so simple. There’s a reason why a President, even in time of war and even if he thinks he has a very very good reason, cannot violate anyone’s rights without the checks & balance of another branch of government. One branch of government is never allowed to legislate, enforce or judge in isolation. To do so is an impeachable offense. ‘Nuff said.