Alan Keyes Extols 'Founding of America' Bill

By Mark Mead | July 7, 2008 | 8:19pm EDT

( - Saying they are "starting fires all over the country," advocates promoting legislation requiring high school students to study America's founding documents are now concentrating their efforts on the state of Ohio.

Ambassador Alan Keyes, chairman of the Washington, DC-based Declaration Foundation, voiced his support of the "Founding of America" bill, which would revise Ohio law and require that all high school students study the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights before graduation.

"The Founding of America bill is simple," Keyes said. "It merely asks that we put the words, the golden words, of the declaration, and the Constitution, before our young."

In his letter to the Ohio House that endorsing the Founding of America bill, Keyes referred to Abraham Lincoln, who once reminded the nation that learning the Declaration of Independence was an imperative for maintaining a strong union.

"It remains true now, as it was when Lincoln said it in 1854," Keyes said, "that '[...if we] re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, ...we shall so have saved [the Union] as to make and to keep it forever worthy of the saving.'"

According to the office of the bill's likely author, Ohio state Rep. Diana Fessler (R-New Carlisle), the legislation is being drafted with the hope of introducing the measure in a few months.

"Rep. Fessler has distributed information to her fellow legislators of her intent and inquired as to whether they would like to co-sponsor a bill of this nature," said Robert Reed, Fessler's administrative assistant. "The bill may be introduced in the fall, but we haven't put an introduction date on it."

"We have been getting quite a few phone calls in response to this," Reed added. "All positive inquiries."

While introduction of the Ohio bill may be at least three months away, Reed said many state legislators have shown interest in educating America's young about the country' founding.

"There are quite a few representatives who will be co-sponsoring, and as soon the bill is introduced, they will be introduced as well," Reed said.

The pressure to educate Ohio's youth about the history and context of America's founding and its documents comes on the heels of the June seventh enactment of a similar bill in Texas.

The Texas House bill, HB 1776, established "Celebrate Freedom Week" each September, during which students from grades three-12 study the Declaration of Independence and the history of America's founding.

Leading the charge in facilitating its passage, Texas Rep. Rick Green (R-Austin) introduced the bill as president of the Torch of Freedom Foundation, a Texas-based organization that seeks to "educate future leaders about the foundations of their freedom."

"We have taken the first step in educating our children on the foundations on which this great country was built," Green said in a statement following the legislation's passage. "We have many more steps to climb and never should we allow the very fabric of our freedoms be lost in the routines of daily life again."

Declaration Foundation joined with Torch of Freedom in 2000 to start promoting the initiative of bringing the Declaration of Independence into America's schools.

Declaration Foundation Media Director Michael Murphy said the victory in Texas foreshadows what's to come around the rest of the country.

"This bill in Texas is a pretext, seeing that this can be done, and that it is being done in other states," Murphy said. "We're starting fires all over the country."

"The idea is to return America again to respecting the dignity of its founding, and the dignity of its people in light of those founding principles," he said.

A similar bill proposed in New Jersey last year failed to pass the state legislature. "It kind of fizzled a bit," Murphy said about the proposed bill, "but we do intend to return to that. We are going to go where the iron is hot, and that's Ohio."

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