Two hundred twenty-six years ago on Tuesday, Sept. 17, the U.S. Constitution was ratified.
Somehow this document of 1787 endured in a nation that has changed almost out of recognition from the one that ushered it into being.
It endured and survived during its greatest threat, a civil war that was fought 150 years ago.
It has endured as the nation expanded its borders several times over.
It has endured the shift from a rural agricultural economy to an urban manufacturing economy to the present universal, electronically-driven economy.
The Constitution has endured through amendments great and small. The great, such as the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly, press and religion. The small, to prohibit alcohol sales, later repealed by another amendment. The amendments that reflected changes in American society, such as giving women the right to vote and lowering the voting age to 18. And 23 more changes and additions to the first basic law.
Almost everything has changed, it seems, except our basic law and the will of the people, whom it serves, to preserve this Constitution.
Flood + 10 years
Ten years ago today, the people of Gloucester and Mathews gazed out over devastation caused by the passage on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003 of Hurricane Isabel.
We got just about the worst of that storm. The highest winds, 107 mph, were recorded at Deb Buchanan’s weather station on Gwynn’s Island.
Flood tides and extreme winds destroyed dozens of homes. Electricity was out everywhere. People fortunate enough to have undamaged homes got their generators going and helped their neighbors. Others went to public shelters, waiting in lines for water and ice, lined up for sandwiches.
The cleanup and recovery were exhausting and in some neighborhoods took several years.
What good came from Isabel? Good neighbors, and an awareness that it might have been much, much worse. But it was bad enough for this century—a hundred-year storm if we ever saw one.
Meltdown + 5 years
And let us not forget something nearly as bad as Isabel, a storm in the financial markets that began happening about this time five years ago.
Following the 2008 economic meltdown, a chill fell over the business communities here, fallout from the failure of mega-banks and bailouts of others. The overheated mortgage market collapsed in a shower of sparks that burned many, many other businesses, individuals and budgets.
A slow recovery is underway from those scary times and shows signs at last that it has taken hold … we hope. There have been many false hopes and false starts, and too many innocent bystanders hurt by excesses in financial industries. The stock market has revived itself in a big way, and we hope Wall Street’s apparently robust good health will rub off on Main Street.