COMMENTARY: Preservation of freedom

By Michael Warren

Ten years ago, the terrorists brutally attacked us not so much for who we are, but for what we stand. Usama Bin Ladin specifically stated that America is "the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind," it was the duty of his followers to murder Americans, and that his legions "do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets."

With the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is fitting to ask, why did we engender such fanatical hatred? The answer is so obvious, it has almost become trite: America is a beacon of light of freedom for billions across the world.

We are such a beacon not because of our economic success, industrial might, entertainment, culture, or fashion--it is because of the "why" we exist at all. Unlike any other country in history, America is defined by the First Principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence and embedded in our Constitution: the rule of law, unalienable rights, equality, the Social Compact, limited government, and the right to alter or abolish an oppressive government. Al-Qaeda attacks us because it despises those First Principles.

The fight over America's future, however, does not rest solely in the War Against Terror. We have the military might to win the battle against the terrorists, but there is a more subtle war being waged every day in our own society. A host of studies reveal that our K-12 school students, college graduates, and the general public are too ignorant of our Constitution, civics, and history to maintain our liberties. As a nation of free citizens, we are responsible for ensuring that our republic survives. We have a solemn obligation to protect the Constitution today and to ensure that our children and grandchildren can and will do the same. We are falling far short. And if we fail, the terrorists win by default.

However, we have the capacity to preserve our freedom--if we make it priority. There are many ways to address the crisis, but one very powerful method often overlooked is reviving the civic calendar.

Many of our current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. Yet those celebrations were vital to remembering our roots and to replenishing the energy needed to maintain a free republic. With the old holidays all but discarded, we need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America's spirit through newer celebrations such as Patriot Week.

This is why my then 10-year-old daughter Leah demanded that we act, and we co-created Patriot Week in 2009. Previously recognized by Michigan State Senate and House resolutions--and with bills passed this year by both chambers to permanently recognize it in Michigan law--this nonpartisan week commemorates what should unite all Americans. Patriot Week has spread to over a dozen states.

Anchored by the key dates of September 11 (the anniversary of the terrorist attacks) and September 17 (Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution), Patriot Week renews the spirit of America by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history.

For example, Patriot Week highlights our rich set of Founding Fathers and other great Patriots who made those First Principles come alive, such as Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, George Washington, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Patriot Week is very much a grassroots effort, and participants include K-12 schools, rotaries, courts, senior living communities, community organizations, colleges, libraries, war heroes, elected officials, and others. Activities range from community panel discussions, lesson plans, movies, book discussions, commemorations, graveside ceremonies, picnics, home celebrations, and others.

Although Patriot Week is only one element needed to keep our republic alive, it is vital to renewing our faith and understanding of America. In the long-term, Patriot Week will only succeed if it is embraced, spread, and kept alive by the public. It is not too late to participate in Patriot Week this year, and you can learn more (and begin preparations for next year) by visiting or the Patriot Week Facebook page or Twitter Account (@PatriotWeek). Join us and help save America.


Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren is the co-creator of Patriot Week ( and author of "America's Survival Guide" (

Published: Fri, Sep 9, 2011