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EDUCATION with Student News

Quick Guide & Transcript: Independence Day

(CNN Student News) -- July 4, 2006


Independence Day

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hey! Thanks for checking us out at This is CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. And this week, we're celebrating America! It's the week of July fourth. And as we pause for the annual tradition of festivities, fireworks and flag-waving, we also remember that what our founding fathers did 230 years ago was truly revolutionary. And their ideas are still alive and well today. We think their words tell the story best: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Those words, written by Thomas Jefferson, are part of the Declaration of Independence. The document declared the American Colonies free and independent from the British Empire. And as you know, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration every July 4th. According to the National Retail Federation, 91 million Americans were expected to spend this Independence Day at a fireworks or community celebration. Some 21 million folks cheered on a Fourth of July parade. And perhaps not surprisingly, 111 million Americans say they own "Old Glory," an American flag.

AZUZ: That flag and the declaration are just two of many historical American artifacts that still resonate today. As states were added to the union, stars were added to the flag. The ideas in the Declaration were on the minds of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, which is the oldest active governing document in the world. And we see examples of the constitution at work every day in the news. Here are just a few:


AZUZ: The U-S has the oldest Constitution still in use, and you don't have to look far to see its principles in action. Let's take a look at Article one. This is mostly about Congress -- the Senate and the House of Representatives, and what they have the power to do. So what does this look like today?

AZUZ: Behold a House debate! One issue congressional leaders have been talking about lately is immigration. Lawmakers have been trying to find a way to rewrite the country's rules on illegal immigration... And the Constitution gives them the power to do it. Now you know who this man is. And whenever you see him go live with his "State of the Union" address, you're seeing Article two, section three on TV! That's the part of the Constitution that says from time to time, the president will talk to Congress about how things are going in the U.S. The rest of Article two describes how the president gets elected, authorizes him to command the U.S. armed forces, and defines his powers and limitations.

AZUZ: Speaking of powers, Article three establishes the nation's highest judicial power, the U.S. Supreme Court. It's responsible for interpreting the laws passed by Congress, and basing its decisions on the Constitution itself. One important thing to keep in mind here is that the document is amendable; that means it can be changed over time. So far, its been amended 27 times.

AZUZ: Back in 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that burning the U.S. flag was a political statement protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. That was, and remains, a highly controversial decision. Some lawmakers -- and a large part of the American public -- believe the flag needs to be protected as an important national symbol.

AZUZ: So the house recently passed a measure that could've led to a new amendment authorizing Congress to ban flag burning. The measure fell one vote short in the Senate. But the whole process gives you an idea of how the Constitution can be adapted as times and ideas change. And therein lies its strength.



DEANNA MORAWSKI, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Who was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it:

A) Benjamin Franklin

B) John Hancock

C) John Adams

D) Thomas Jefferson

You've got three seconds...go!

MORAWSKI: It's hard to miss the distinctive signature of John Hancock, the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!


AZUZ: So did you get it? We've got more trivia set up in a free, interactive quiz. And many answers have been cleverly crafted into today's program! So test your knowledge about the July 4th holiday, by clicking on the link to the Independence Day quiz. And after you're done, tell us what you thought of this week's show, by clicking on the contact us button! It's all as close as!


AZUZ: And we'll go out with a bang today with some scenes you see every Independence Day! I'm Carl Azuz. All of us at CNN Student News hope you had a wonderful July 4th holiday.

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