The SE Texas Record Sep. 15, 2014, 2:08pm

By Michael P. Maguire

America loves innovators. We always have.

Apple last week introduced two new iPhones and its long-awaited Apple Watch. As part of a marketing blitz aimed at drumming up consumer excitement, they also threw in U2's newest album as a gift exclusively on iTunes.

Under Armour is quite the innovator, as well. Last weekend, the Maryland Terrapins football team busted out its new "Star-Spangled Banner" uniforms to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the poem written by attorney Francis Scott Key.  Under Armour actually placed the Star-Spangled Banner words on Maryland's sleeves.

Their creativity is very much admired.

On Sept. 17, we should take time to reflect on another example of America's creativity and innovation — the U.S. Constitution.  It was on this date in 1787 — 227 years ago — that this ingenious document that shaped these United States was born.

The Preamble of the Constitution opens with the most telling words of our democracy, "We the People," which marked the beginning of our government, the same government that exists today.

Constitution Day affords us the opportunity to reflect on the basic, fundamental rights that are the bedrock of our democracy. These rights are uniquely American and fiercely protected by we, the people, as the cornerstone of what makes this nation great.

Our founding fathers revered trial by jury. They embedded the right to jury trials deep within our Constitution and Bill of Rights making it a fundamental pillar of our democracy by giving ordinary citizens, not a wealthy few or an individual judge, the power to protect individual rights and keep justice grounded to the values of the community.

Our American rights and freedoms have been secured and preserved at great human cost. It is our obligation, as citizens of this democratic republic, to understand the value of participating as voters and jurors to preserve our freedoms. When you receive a jury summons, serve gladly and with honor.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention, an inquisitive woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the delegates had created.  He reportedly quipped, "A Republic, madam, if you can keep it."

On this Constitution Day, ask your children what they learned in school about our founding document.  Read the Preamble together and marvel at this extraordinary document that has guided our nation for 227 years. Talk about our responsibility to preserve and protect our freedoms. It is surely the only way these freedoms will survive.

So the next time you see someone using their iPhone on an elevator, or on the train, or walking down the street, you can marvel at the innovation that Apple put in our hands. But remember our Founding Fathers — our nation's most significant innovators.

Then ask yourself, will my iPhone last for 227 years?

Michael P. Maguire is president of the Foundation of the American Board of Trial Advocates. ABOTA is a professional organization of more than 7,000 civil trial lawyers and judges in the United States, serving both plaintiff and defense.  The ABOTA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the Constitutional vision of equal justice for all Americans and our civil justice system for future generations.


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