224 years ago today, the Bill of Rights was ratified.
“On December 15, 1791, the United States adopted the Bill of Rights, enshrining in our Constitution the protection of our inalienable freedoms, from the right to speak our minds and worship as we please to the guarantee of equal justice under the law…. In adopting the first ten Amendments, our Founders put forth an ideal that continues to define our Nation — that we can have both liberty and security, that we need not sacrifice the rights of man for the rule of law.”
Jeff Kaliner and his students remind us of a lesson easily forgotten: as messy as our endless pursuit of a more perfect union may be, not everyone shares our blessing of liberty.
Kaliner teaches a homeland security class at the Clark County Skills Center in Vancouver, WA. His students were asked to step into the shoes of a child living in Aleppo and write a letter to a pen pal, relative or friend in the United States. Specifically, Kaliner asked the students to describe what they saw, heard and felt.
Dear Pen Pal,
My name is Mason. I am 17 years old and I am from Syria.
I have seen many terrible things. ISIS bombed my house last year and my mom and sister died. Even though I was very scared I wanted justice. So, soon after the bombing I began making weapons with my father.
I fear for my life and my family’s lives every day and the only thing that makes me want to live is my dad and my little brother. I am teaching my brother about how to make bombs. I am also trying to give him an education so that he might have a future after this war.
I wish we could send my little brother out of the country. He needs a proper education and a better life.
Dear Pen Pal
I am writing to you from Syria.
Every day I patrol my area and look for anything that is out of the ordinary. The government has planted bombs.
In the morning I join my dad in the office to make bombs to use against the regime. Once I’m done with that my sister and I go and make sure the sheets are still hanging outside of our home so the snipers can’t shoot us.
On a daily basis I see war and I see people fighting for what they believe in. I also see my siblings suffering. We all felt it was best to stay and fight with my dad and I agree so that’s what we are going to do.
Even though I have lost friends who sided with the government, I know my help can make a difference.
I am constantly thinking about how I am going to die, I’m not really scared but I feel nervous as if when I die I won’t have contributed enough to the cause. I am feeling a bit of anxiety and stress due to my position but I am also feeling pride in the fact that I know fighting will change something.
Well I’m needed on the lines now so I have to go, bye.
Your Friend ~ Grady Baxter
Hello Pen Pal,
My name is Evelyn and I am 9 years old. I live with my family in a country named Syria in the town of Aleppo. Syria is where I was born and raised.
I believe my country would be better if we had peace. I feel as if I am terrorized for something that I have no part of. I love my family and we are at risk every day, knowing that anybody could die the next.
We are trying to make the best living here but it’s really, really hard. Bombs are always being thrown and destroying our property and our houses. I don’t think my family or any of us deserve this. We only want to be happy.
I see things that scare me and I know it’s not right. I see things like people’s heads being blown off and body parts laying around in the streets. It’s scary for me and all I can do is hope and pray every day and every night for a better tomorrow.
Peace to you,