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Constitution Day 2020: Brushing Up on Founding Document and Civics

Preamble of the Constitution of the United States [Jack R Perry Photography / Shutterstock]
Preamble of the Constitution of the United States [Jack R Perry Photography / Shutterstock]

From political division, to impeachment proceedings, to global pandemic, to protests over racial injustice, these times present challenges for citizens and leaders alike.

The turbulence in our national life has led to an  increase in how well Americans understand their government and their rights.  Each year the Annenberg Public Policy Center of  the University of Pennsylvania releases a survey that gives a snapshot of civics knowledge in the United States.

Annenberg releases the survey in conjunction with Constitution Day---which is today marking the date in 1787 when the Constitution was signed.

The 2020 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey finds that nearly three-quarters of Americans correctly named freedom of speech as one of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment—that is up from 48% in 2017.  More than half were able to name all three branches of government---that is up from 39-percent last year.

We discuss the Constitution and what it says about freedom on The Sound of Ideas with a Cleveland lawyer and expert.

But first, psychologists tell us the worst thing that can happen to any parent, is the loss of a child, regardless the age of the child.

Families tell us that other people do not comprehend their pain and they question why they are expected to move on, and in some way, "get over it”.

In Ohio's Sandusky County  from 1996 through 2010  children were contracting and dying of different types of cancers at an alarming rate and no one knew why.

One family took their mission to learn more about what was making the children seek to Washington and meetings with members of Congress and political leaders.  Even after the loss of their daughter, they have persisted in the battle to protect children.

WEWS Investigative Reporter, Jonathan Walsh, tell the wrenching story of the East Sandusky County Cancer Cluster near Clyde, Ohio in his book, “Is My Child Next? The Alexa Brown Story.”  Walsh began following the cluster of cancer cases when he worked as a reporter in 2006 at WTOL in Toledo.

Walsh and the parents of Alexa Brown discuss the events that led to the book to begin the program.

 Later, this weekend, Cleveland's Old Stone Church will celebrate its bicentennial.  The church's congregation dates back to 1820 when Cleveland was just a village.

The church and its members shaped the foundations of Cleveland and were instrumental in the formation of key community organizations including what is now Case Western Reserve University, the YMCA and YWCA and University Hospitals.

The Old Stone Church on Public Square remains one of the city's iconic landmarks and makes the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

For More Information:

United States Constitution (PDF)

National Constitution Center web site

National Archives: U.S Founding Documents

Annenberg Public Policy Center Civics Survey

Old Stone Church Bicentennial Celebration

Jonathan Walsh, Author, "Is My Child Next? The Alexa Brown Story," Investigative Reporter, WEWS
Wendy Brown, Parent
Warren Brown, Parent 
Ashlie Case Sletvold, President, William K. Thomas American Inn of Court
Rev. Dr. Andrew McDonald, Interim Senior Pastor, The Old Stone Church
Don Guenther, Church Historian
Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc., Church Member