Slightly more than half a mile from here lies the National Archives, current home of our Constitution. The stone of that building is etched with the inscription, “Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.“ There is truth in that, but something more is required as well.
It is not enough to be a spectator, to watch and comment from the sidelines. It is not enough to send membership dues to advocacy groups and then expect action from others. The rights enshrined in the Constitution will only continue to belong to us if we as individuals are willing to put in the hard work of preserving them. We must do more than speak strong words, we need to be active advocates among our countrymen.
We need to listen to the concerns and warnings delivered here today and echo them to the wider public. We need to learn more about our history and engage people in conversations about it. We need to invite people to our ranges, into our sports and our hunting traditions. We need to advocate even more strongly for women’s right to self-defense. We need to illustrate that our rights belong to all citizens, no matter how they differ from each other. We need to address mental health concerns with real solutions that do not compromise our civil rights. We need to knock on doors during election season in support of candidates who understand the importance of all this.
No, it will not be easy. It will put some of us in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. But it is time. Our very freedoms are contingent upon many, many more of us standing up now and being the difference we need. We have to make it personal and genuine. We have to acknowledge our differences, then put them aside in favor of all that unites us. Because, if we do not, rest assured that those who think themselves “our betters” will continue to exploit those differences to hasten our decline from citizens into subjects.
My name is Timothy Rothwell Knight. The Rothwells – my ancestors - were stone masons who created parts of this very building behind us. They did it for more than a pay check. They did it because they believed in the continuing experiment of our Constitutional Republic. I am going to honor their work by continuing to build a stronger country. One where I can stand with my friends – with you, if you will join us - and make a difference. One that I can leave to my children, when my time has come, knowing that they understand the importance of liberty and the price that comes with it.