On the June 23rd episode of Jeopardy, three well-educated contestants were all unable to answer a question every American should find simple.
They were asked to name the document in which these words are found: “We, the People… in order to form a more perfect union…”
Not only did no one give a correct answer, not one of them even pushed their button to attempt an answer!
This wasn’t a special week of Jeopardy where all the contestants were high school or college students. And no, this wasn’t Celebrity Jeopardy either. This was a fully-vetted panel who earned their spot over hundreds of competitors and included a five-day champion, an editor, and a librarian.
One of them was from Canada and could arguably be given a pass for having a weaker knowledge of American History. So why couldn’t at least two of them answer a question that used to be considered basic American knowledge?
And the Answer Is…
How about you? Even with four words missing from the phrase, can you name its source? “We, the People… in order to form a more perfect union…”
These are the first words of the preamble to the United States Constitution.
Our constitution is the best political document ever written in the history of humanity because it accomplishes what no other document has ever done.
Prior to its creation, power was granted to those seen as the strongest. The king was in charge and the people were to follow. In contrast, the preamble of the U.S. Constitution highlights that the people are the sovereign — that power flows from the people.
We as Americans celebrate one of the most extraordinary stories this world has ever known. To not know our history is one of the greatest tragedies we could witness.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once stated, “History is to the nation as memory is to the individual. As a person deprived of memory becomes disoriented and lost, not knowing where they have been or where they are going, so a nation denied a conception of the past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future.”
As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, take a moment to remember just what we are celebrating.
Amidst the BBQ’s, the camping, the fireworks and the fun, remember that this is not just our country’s birthday. It is our opportunity to celebrate the exceptional nation in which we live. It is the day we renew our heritage.
Celebrate this Fourth of July by reading the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and/or the Gettysburg Address aloud.
Read aloud to yourself. Read aloud to your children. Read aloud to your grandchildren. Read while waiting for the charcoal to heat. Read while waiting for the fireworks to start—it doesn’t matter when you read, but it does matter that you do.
When you read, remember that this is what America aspired to be all those years ago when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence. And remember that this is still what we aspire to today.
Now it’s your turn to put your skills to the test with our 4th of July Fun-Fact Trivia. Click the link below to see how many famous American quotes you can identify.
If you do well, you will have the opportunity to win a Wyoming Family Alliance prize pack! (And you may want to consider trying out for Jeopardy yourself…)
After taking the quiz via the button above, return to this page to see the correct answers.
- “It will be celebrated with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” —John Adams
- “Independence now and forever!” –Daniel Webster
- “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like me, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” –Thomas Paine
- “The red and white and starry blue is freedom’s shield and hope.” —John Philip Sousa
- “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” –Abraham Lincoln
- “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” —Ronald Reagan
- “It is not in the still calm of life that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.” –Abigail Adams
- “Give me liberty, or give me death!” –-Patrick Henry
- “Unfortunately civility is hard to codify or legislate, but you know it when you see it. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.” —Sandra Day O’Connor
- “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” –Nathan Hale
- “…a date which will live in infamy…” –Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” –John F. Kennedy
- “The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
- “It’s better to fight for something in life than to die for nothing.” –George S. Patton
- “The sons of America have given a new proof how impossible it is to conquer freemen fighting in defense of all that is dear to them.” –Andrew Jackson
- “The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.” –Clara Barton
- “I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls—I shall never surrender or retreat.” –William B. Travis
- “I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.” —Harriet Tubman