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'Let freedom ring': Dickinson Middle School celebrates Constitution Day

Dozens of area first responders joined Dickinson Middle School to celebrate Constitution Day and remember the victims of 9/11.

DMS Constitution Day
Dickinson Middle School students and staff recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Contributed / Sarah Trustem
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DICKINSON — On Friday Dickinson Middle School civics instructor Hannah Farstveet and her colleagues continued a longstanding Midgets tradition of coming together with local first responders to celebrate Citizenship & Constitution Day. They also commemorated the terrorist attacks which occurred 21 years ago on September 11.

Students learned about the history of the Constitution, Star Spangled Banner, 9/11 and the wholesome values that enable a community to thrive. Approximately 30 EMS and law enforcement personnel showed up. Participating agencies included the Stark County Sheriff’s Department, ND Highway Patrol, ND National Guard; as well as the Dickinson Area Ambulance, Fire and Police Departments. Students were given time to mingle with the first responders. Teachers who spoke praised them as “local heroes” and “cornerstones of our community.”

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Area law enforcement officers showed up to teach middle school students about what it means to be a good citizen.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

Great freedom, great responsibility

Sgt. Maj. Scott Obrigewitch, a 23rd year eighth grade history teacher and U.S. Army National Guardsman, explained to students that the Constitution is America’s foundational, brilliantly structured by the Founding Fathers to protect the God given rights of citizens centuries after they were gone. He pointed out that all 3.5 million service members in the United States Military have sworn a solemn oath to protect and defend it.

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“As a reminder, I carry a copy of the Constitution whenever I'm in uniform. So I know what I'm willing to give my life for,” Obrigewitch said. “If you're a US citizen, you have a lot of freedoms, more freedoms than any country in the world. But with great freedom comes great responsibility.”

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Dickinson Middle School students play The Star Spangled Banner.
Contributed / Sarah Trustem

He then encouraged students to do whatever they can to be virtuous and productive citizens for their country, before leading them in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Citizenship Day was established in 1952. In 2005 President Bush signed a bill renaming it Constitution & Citizenship Day, to commemorate the final session of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

We the People

Social studies teacher Alyssa Wagner explained the history of this convention and recited the preamble.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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,” Wagner said.

She then offered a moving tribute to the Framers of our Constitution.

“These famous words of the preamble to the Constitution ring true in the minds of Americans today as they did over 200 years ago. Today, on the anniversary of the signing of that document, let freedom ring in our hearts and let it ring every day,” she said.

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Social studies teacher Alyssa Wagner speaks about the magnificent history of America's Founding Fathers.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

James Madison, one of the document’s primary authors, underscored the importance of America as a republic. For obvious reasons the founders were rigidly opposed to monarchy, but they also condemned democracy as mob rule vulnerable to fleeting whims of the masses.

“Wherever the real power in a government lies, there is the danger of oppression,” Madison wrote in a 1788 letter to Thomas Jefferson. “In our governments, the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

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Living virtuously

Dickinson Police School Resource Officer Taylor Peters told students citizenship is all about adhering to a set of core values.

“As middle school students going into your academic career, we think about how we can better serve our community and be better citizens,” Peters said. “Integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. Respect is to treat others the way you want to be treated. And teamwork is to help out your team as much as you can, in any way possible.”

Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee said he’s pleased to see Dickinson Public Schools advancing patriotism and promulgating American values.

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DMS faculty and first responders.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“What gets me more than anything is getting out here and saying the Pledge with all these kids. The Pledge of Allegiance is leaving the schools in many states and cities, especially our bigger cities in the United States,” Lee said. “Obviously as a sheriff, I live and die for the Constitution. (Protecting) life, liberty and property — that’s my job right? It's very important that these kids, first of all, realize that and understand what the Constitution is and the freedoms that it provides them.”

Lee added that he hopes to inspire some of the adolescents to take up the call of duty to serve their community behind a badge.

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Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“Hopefully some in this crowd will get into law enforcement or something related to that field and continue on with the dreams I have lived out in doing this job,” he said.

Interim Dickinson Police Chief Joe Cianni was also at the event. He said he’s proud of this country’s military and that it’s important for Americans to remember their roots in a system that brought the original 13 states together under one strong but federalist union that respected states’ rights.

"Millions of soldiers have fought for our right to maintain our freedoms, our Constitution and the amendments that came after that to ensure those rights and freedoms," Cianni said. "So I’m very proud of our armed forces.”

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The ceremony ended with a silent dismissal of the students in honor of 9/11 victims.

Constitution on Betsy Ross Flag
This flag, popularly attributed to Betsy Ross, was designed during the American Revolutionary War and features 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies.
smartstock/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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