Bibb Addresses GSA Constitution Day Celebration
As prepared for delivery
David L. Bibb
U.S. General Services Administration
Constitution Day Celebration
September 21, 2006
Thank you so much for being here today for GSA’s celebration of Constitution Day.
My job is to present the preamble to the main event. We’re very fortunate to have an incredibly knowledgeable guest speaker. I’ll tell you more about him in a minute.
The Constitution of the United States is remarkable. Most things that still exist after 200 years are showing a little wear—but not our constitution. It’s the oldest and shortest written constitution of any government in the world, and has withstood every challenge, including the test of time.
Our speaker will tell you more about the power and vision embodied in the Constitution. But here’s some Q&A:
Who knows the name of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution?
(Bill of Rights)
What are the first three words of the Constitution?
(We the people)
Okay, those are too easy.
Does anyone know which state was misspelled in the Constitution?
Who was the oldest person to sign the Constitution?
(Ben Franklin, 81)
History tells us that as Franklin signed, tears streamed down his face. That’s understandable. I think each of us has a special relationship with the Constitution.
For a lot of us—when we were kids— the Constitution was just a chore that we had to get through in a civics class in school.
Then, later, it was something we always heard on TV in some crime drama – ‘I’m going to plead the Fifth Amendment or the First Amendment” but, if you were like me, maybe you really didn’t know what it meant.
But now, I think about the Constitution almost every day, when I hear the words:
“We, the people”
And when I think: “in order to form a more perfect union,” because that’s what we are trying to do here at GSA every single day with our efforts to create— one GSA.
You and I have taken an actual oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that won’t always be easy, but I want you to know I appreciate your efforts, and the fact that you have chosen a life of public service.
Okay, enough preamble.
Our guest speaker today is professor Alan Weinstein. He is the ninth Archivist of the United States, having been confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February of 2005.
Professor Weinstein heads the National Archives and Records Administration, which has been home to the U.S. Constitution since 1952.
Before taking his current position, Professor Weinstein served as president of The Center for Democracy, a non-profit foundation that he created in 1985 to promote and strengthen the democratic process.
An extraordinary accomplished author and educator, his international awards include the united nations peace medal for efforts to promote peace, dialogue and free elections in several critical parts of the world, the council of Europe’s Silver Medal, and awards from the presidents of Nicaragua and Romania for assistance in their countries’ democratization processes.
Professor Weinstein is frequently sought as a commentator by CNN, C-SPAN, and many others.
Today, however, he’s all ours.
Please help me welcome professor Alan Weinstein.
(gift presentation following remarks)
Thank you very much, Professor Weinstein. Before we close, I'd like to present you with a small token of appreciation from we the people of GSA.
this lithograph – “Midtown Tunnel Construction” by Theodore Wahl – has also withstood the test of time. It was printed in 1939 – another tumultuous time in our nation’s history – by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project.
Our government set up the WPA to help address America’s unemployment crisis during the great depression. The program focused on big construction projects, but also included funds for the creation of artwork. as is evident from this print, artists such as Theodore Wahl found inspiration in the construction projects.
Though the WPA officially ended in 1943, prints such as Midtown Tunnel Construction are lasting reminders of the WPA-era programs and its impact on the lives of America’s laborers and artists during the depression. GSA is proud to protect and preserve thousands of new deal works of art for the education and enjoyment of future generations. I hope you enjoy this print, and thank you again for your enlightening remarks today.