These plaques, which attempt to convey the spirit and essence of our national heritage as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, have been added to this inspiring overlook on the 50th anniversary of our graduation from West Point and on the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution.
The Class of 1938
The Declaration of Independence
* ? * ? * ? *. . We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.* ? * ? * ? *We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.July 7, 1776
The United States Constitution
We The People of the United States, 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.
These simple words preface the Constitution, a document that expresses the enduring values of the American people and focuses the loyalty of their Armed Forces. It is the Constitution that all military personnel pledge to "support and defend against all enemies . . . "
Drafted to replace the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution was signed and submitted for ratification in 1787. It establishes a government of limited and separated powers. Shared responsibility and divided authority provide safeguards against tyranny but place unusual burdens on the conduct of the affairs of the nation. As an example, the President is Commander-in-Chief but the Congress raises, supports and regulates the Armed Forces. Both the Executive and Legislative authorities are subject to the persuasive power of an independent Judiciary.
Two major omissions prejudiced popular support: protection of individual freedoms, and definition of residual power of the several states. A general commitment to rectify these shortcomings ensured ratification the Constitution in 1788 and, three years later, the entry into force of ten amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights. Thus, the Republic's framework provides for balance between liberty and equality and weighs the corporate interests of the nation and the rights of individuals and the states.
Our enlightened Founding Fathers recognized that the Constitution they designed must keep up with the times and developments of mankind. On sixteen occasions since 1791, the American people have adjusted their frame of government to reflect the dynamic world in which it functions.
Steadfastly allegiant to our Constitution, we remain one people, one nation under God, seeking peace, freedom and opportunity for all.