by Rob Roper
Linda Kirker, a former member of the Vermont House of Representatives, is a staunch supporter of the United States Constitution and the principles of our nation’s founding.
“I believe so much in my country and how it was founded with great principles that offer unique freedoms to American citizens.. I get all teary when the National Anthem is played…,” she said in a recent interview. “I love the country I grew up in. In recent years, I see efforts to thwart the fundamental documents that have made this country a special place. We need to create awareness so that parents, grandparents and all of our citizens will stand up to protect their freedoms and Constitutional rights before they are taken from us and our grandchildren.
In 2010, Kirker and a friend began meeting regularly for coffee at a local café in the St. Albans area to discuss issues and the country’s founding principles. These casual meetings grew (considerably), became more formal (slightly), and led to the formation of American Conservative Women in Action (ACWA). The group now has over twenty regular members, spanning Franklin, Chittenden, Grand Isle and Lamoille counties.
“Our mission,” Kirker explained, “is to foster understanding of our founding documents, which includes our Constitution, of course, for future generations.” Kirker stresses the fact that ACWA is non-partisan. “Our focus is the Constitution and education about the Constitution…. It surprises me that a big majority of our members were Democrats for years…. I didn’t ask them what their politics were. They volunteered [the information].” “It seems that I am one of the few long-time Republicans.”
What unifies these women? “We’re concerned about our children and grandchildren, who, if things continue on the trend that they are now, will not be the beneficiaries of the freedoms and the rights that we have known…. They are eroding right before our very eyes.”
To stem that erosion, ACWA is putting on the first Franklin County Constitution Day Celebration on Saturday, September 17th, 224 years to the day after the United States Constitution was ratified in Philadelphia. The event will take place in Taylor Park, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. in St. Albans.
Although the event is still in the planning stages (and Kirker welcomes input!), the morning’s activities are beginning to take shape. Kirker says that she is thrilled with the great response by community members who are interested in participating in this first- of- a -kind event.
10-year old Rosie Newton of St. Albans, who recently caused a sensation singing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch at Fenway Park, will sing the National Anthem. The VFW color guard will present the flag, and the Boy Scouts will lead the salute to the flag.
Two officers of the Vermont National Guard will give talks on the Constitution. There will be fun, patriotic face-painting for the kids. ACWA will be giving out free, pocket copies of the Constitution and community members, young and old, have volunteered to read the Constitution. The Boy Scouts will be accepting people’s soiled or frayed American Flags for proper disposal. They will also be selling new American flags if people want to purchase them.
“I’m still working on a band to play some patriotic music,” says Kirker. “This event is a first time thing, and we’re kind of working our way along with it, but I’m very excited.” Kirker hopes more people will come on board between now and September, share ideas for how to make the event better, and to keep it going and growing year after year.”
“There are judges in our courts and legislators in our Congress and some in the states who are casting aside – wanting our Constitution to be a flexible elastic thing that they can suit to their purposes…. To fool with the Constitution through executive orders and circumventing Congress is not the way to go.”
Kirker concludes, “The U.S. Constitution is a contract between government and the people that has served this great country well for 224 years. We, the citizens, are empowered by the Constitution, if we assume our responsibility, to be vigilant in watching what Congress and the Federal Administration do, and then to speak out with our votes if there are abuses to the contract. Will you stand up and do your part? The Declaration of Independence defines our freedoms, the Constitution protects them, unless we fail to be vigilant and actively involved American citizens. Just because we elect people to represent us doesn’t meant that our responsibility is over.”
Bring your children to St. Albans on September 17th to celebrate Constitution Day. Everyone is invited.