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Marion Wright Edelman
Marion Wright Edelman


Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
Mark Morial

Celebrate the Foundation of America
Harmony Hall Chapter DAR Promotes Constitution Week

By PRESS OFFICER
Harmony Hall Chapter NSDAR

• Constitution Week was initiated in 1955 by the DAR to commemorate the United States Constitution.

• Constitution Week is September 17–23, 2019.

• Goals of the week are to encourage study of the historical events leading to the framing of the Constitution in 1787; to inform people that the Constitution is the foundation of our way of life; and to emphasize our responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution.

 

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (September 2, 2019)—There are two documents of paramount importance to American history: the Declaration of Independence, which forged our national identity, and the United States Constitution, which set forth the framework for the federal government that is still in use today. While Independence Day is a beloved national holiday, fewer people know about Constitution Week, an annual commemoration of the living document that upholds and protects the freedoms central to our American way of life. This year, the annual celebration begins September 17, 2019.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) initiated the observance in 1955, when the organization petitioned the U.S. Congress to dedicate September 17–23 of each year to the commemoration of Constitution Week. Congress adopted the resolution, and on August 2, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into Public Law #915. The celebration’s goals are threefold: to encourage the study of the historical events that led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787; to inform people that the Constitution is the basis of America’s great heritage and the foundation of our way of life; and to emphasize U.S. citizens’ responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution.

DAR has been the foremost advocate for the awareness, promotion and celebration of Constitution Week. This annual observance provides innumerable opportunities for educational initiatives and community outreach, two mission areas of crucial importance to the National Society’s work. By fostering knowledge of and appreciation for the Constitution and the inalienable rights it affords to all Americans, DAR helps to keep alive the memory of the men and women who secured our nation’s independence, whose bravery and sacrifice made possible the liberties we enjoy today.

“The framers created a Constitution that translated into law the ideals upon which our nation was built,” said DAR President General Denise Doring VanBuren. “Their vision was so forward thinking that their words still guide us today. No American history education can be complete without a thorough understanding of the impact the Constitution has had on the lives of American citizens past and present.”

“The Constitution is a living document that assures each citizen of the freedoms Americans cherish and appreciate,” says Deanna Lutz, Regent with the Harmony Hall Chapter in Fort Washington, MD. “It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our ancestors’ legacy alive by promoting the ideals they fought valiantly to give their descendants.”

 

Organized in 1984, the Harmony Hall Chapter of the DAR actively promotes patriotism, supports local historic preservation, and honors veterans through commemorative celebrations, memorials, and other activities. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership.  The Chapter meets regularly at the Fort Washington Forest Community Center on Filmore Road in Fort Washington, MD. Meetings are free and open to the public. To learn more about the work of Chapter, visit www.harmonyhall.marylanddar.org

Marion Wight Edelman
ChildWatch: Our All American Gun Epidemic Continues to Threaten Children

It happened again. On August 31, a gunman in West Texas armed with a semiautomatic weapon killed seven people and injured 25 others. One of the victims was 15-year-old Leilah Hernandez who had just celebrated her quinceañera in May. Her friends remembered her as someone who “could turn a bad day into a good one.” She was walking out of a car dealership next to her 18-year-old brother Nathan who’d just bought a truck he’d been saving up for. Nathan tried to shield her in his arms but was shot and injured too.

Seventeen-month-old Anderson Davis was injured in the face and chest by bullet fragments as she and her twin brother sat in their car seats. These were just three of the children and teens killed or injured by guns on average every day in America. A child is killed by guns every 2 hours and 34 minutes. Some have been victims of mass shootings while others died from accidental shootings, suicides, domestic or community gun violence. Although the majority of young gun victims are White, Black children and teens are disproportionately at risk and are four times more likely to be killed by guns than their White peers.

St. Louis, Missouri is among the communities devastated by an outbreak of gun violence killing Black children. At least a dozen Black children have lost their lives there from gun violence since April. Two-year-old Kayden Johnson and his 18-year-old mother Trina’ty Riley were both killed inside their home. Three-year-old Kennedi Powell was outside her home eating pizza when someone in a passing car opened fire. Kennedi was killed and a six-year-old was critically injured.

Ten-year-old Eddie Hill IV was a bright student who dreamed of becoming a doctor or engineer. Eddie was shot and killed in July standing outside his home. Seven-year-old Xavier Usanga was killed by a stray bullet playing in his backyard with his sisters the day before he was to begin second grade. Mourners brought Captain America and Iron Man action figures to Xavier’s vigil. Kristina Curry, Myiesha Cannon, and Jason Eberhart, Jr. were all 16 when they lost their lives. Kristina, who loved to sing, dance, and garden, was killed in May. Myiesha, an honor roll student, was killed in June. Jason, killed in August, was a gifted athlete who hoped to play football in college like his older brother. Eight-year-old Jurnee Thompson was shot and killed after a fight broke out at a football jamboree she was attending with her cousins. And 15-year-old Sentonio Cox was found shot dead near a path he and his twin brother often used as a shortcut home.

Rev. Starsky Wilson, who chaired the Ferguson Commission, is CEO of the Deaconess Foundation and a community leader in St. Louis. His 9-year-old son Mason is one of many St. Louis children affected by gun violence. Mason told a reporter through quiet tears last week, “It makes me sad and it makes me worried a lot.” In July Mason and 170 other children attending the Deaconess Foundation’s CDF Freedom Schools® program brought letters and messages to St. Louis’s City Hall officials describing their fears and urging adults to enact stronger laws to protect them.

When will adults stand up to protect children over guns? After mass shootings at two Walmart stores in August, including El Paso, Texas where 22 people were killed and 24 injured by a gunman echoing President Trump’s hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric, Walmart announced September 3rd it would stop selling ammunition for handguns and assault-style weapons and ask customers not to openly carry guns in its stores—a small long overdue step that was predictably opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). It is way past time for lawmakers to stop letting the NRA be in charge of national security and listen to the majority of Americans who want common sense effective gun violence prevention measures enacted now. The House of Representatives has passed several measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat but the Senate has refused to vote on these measures to keep children safe. Please raise your voice with urgency and persistence and use your vote to ensure your Congressional leaders protect child lives over guns.

 

TOP OF PAGE


Marc Morial, President and CEO National Urban Legue

To Be Equal: Attitudes About Gun Safety Are Changing,  but Senate Leadership Is Mired in the Past

“The biggest movement and shift that we’ve seen in this culture is simply because of the victims. When victims and survivors are coming to the legislative bodies and they’re telling their stories and they’re appealing, we’ve seen movement. We’ve seen movement. And so it’s a matter of changing one mind and one heart at a time. You change the culture, and the policy change comes right on the heels of that.”

—Congresswoman Lucy McBath, mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, shot to death in an argument about loud music.

 

The facts on gun safety are clear.

Since 1994, background checks have blocked over 3.5 million gun sales to felons, domestic abusers, and other people who aren’t allowed to have guns under existing law.

About 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all firearms sales.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow the senate to vote on bills, passed by the House of Representatives, that would expand background checks to private sales and extend to at least 10 days the amount of time firearms dealers must wait for a response from the background check system before the sale can proceed.

A ban on military-style assault weapons in effect from September 1994 through 2004 was associated with a 25 percent drop in gun massacres and a 40 percent drop in fatalities.

About two-thirds of American support a ban on military-style assault weapons.

But a bill to restrict the sale of military-style assault weapons remains mired in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One of the people who should have failed a background check to buy a handgun was Dylann Roof of Columbia, South Carolina. Because the check was not completed within three days, Roof was able to buy a gun.

A few months later, Roof shot and killed nine people at  Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

One of the people who was prevented from buying a gun because he failed a background check in 2014 was Seth Ator of Odessa, Texas.  Ator had been committed to a psychiatric institution in 2006 because he was deemed a danger to himself and/or others. Because of a loophole in the law—a loophole that would be closed by the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act—Ator was able to purchase an AR-15 style rifle through a private sale.

Ator used that rifle to shoot nearly 30 people in Odessa and Midland, Texas, on Saturday, killing seven and wounding 22.

There were six other mass shootings in the United States on Saturday, leaving five more dead and another 20 injured. There have been 287 mass shootings in of 2019—more than a shooting per day. There have been 10,018 deaths and 20,061 injuries from gun violence this year, and that’s not even including suicides by firearms, which claim about 23,000 lives each year.

Stopping gun violence is now the third-most important issue for voters, after health care and immigration, according to a recent poll.

The ongoing epidemic of gun violence prompted Walmart to stop selling stop selling handgun ammunition and “short-barrel rifle ammunition,” such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber, that can also be used on assault-style weapons.  Walmart and Walmart and Kroger also have requested that customers not openly carry firearms in their stores.

These decisions mark a significant turning point in the effort to protect Americans from gun violence. Senate leaders have, instead, chosen to continue along the path of cowardice.

As the House passage of the background bill and the Walmart and Kroger decisions demonstrate, the firearm industry is losing its stranglehold on our political and legislative institutions. But not fast enough. As long as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to consider the commonsense gun safety laws passed by the House, it’s clear his loyalties lie with the gun lobby and not with the American people.

We must do everything we can to urge the Senate to do its job. Call 202-224-3121 to speak to your Senators and let them know they were elected to defend your safety and your family, not the profits of the gun industry.



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