On Constitution Day…

Monday Musings for Monday September 16, 2019
Volume IX, No. 37/448


Constitution Day, Supremacy of the Rule of Law,

What Makes America Great?

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, ScD (Hon), DLFAPA*

Jill LePore, The brilliant Professor of History at Harvard, opens her most recent colossal 936 page book, “These Truths, The History of United States”, as follows: One day, Tuesday October 30, 1787, the readers of a newspaper called NEW YORK PACKET found on the front page an article, The Constitution of the United States, 4400 words long…” According to Professor LePore, the 4400 words essay attempted to chart the motions of the branches of government and separation of their powers…That meant the start of a new era. ‘the origin of that idea, and its fate, are the story of American history. The review of this book will appear in this space.

232 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the founding fathers of our beloved Republic singed the sacred document we know and cherish as the US Constitution. Thereby they gave birth to America. They gave birth to our great nation. No, America is not great because of its prosperity. It is not great because of the proverbial “American dream” of a brick home with a two car garage. It is not great because it gives us security, opportunity, and order. And it is not great because of its advanced technology, and the number of Nobel Laureates it produces in science, medicine, literature and humanities. America is great because it is a nation of laws and its absolute commitment to uphold and maintain the supremacy of the rule of law. On this Constitution Day, it is fitting to take a psychological scalpel and dissect what goes into the grandeur of America’s reverential devotion to upholding the rule of law. I am selecting two cases, one national and one local. They dramatically and eloquently tell us the story of America.

On the national scene, we saw the trial of psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan who by his own admission in a rampage on November 5, 2009 killed 13 and wounded 32 of his fellow soldiers at his Texas military base. During his trail, speaking on his own behalf, in the court he said “The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.” Major Hasan is paralyzed below chest. He requires special medical attention at Brooke Army Medical Center. He is incontinent and in need of round the clock nursing care and rehabilitation. Also, there is a special security team assigned to protect his life- day and night. He was tried in a specially fortified court room. Sources familiar with his care report that Major Hasan’s security detail rivals that of those of the US President. For example, when he was transported back and forth to court, a helicopter and bullet proof cars are used to ensure his safety. The cost is in the millions. Besides, since November 5, 2009, he has been paid a salary of $278.000 in addition to $78,000 for housing allowance. Yes, the majesty of the supremacy of the rule of law in the beloved land of America is dramatically demonstrated by how we are treating an admitted killer. As stated above, the American dream is not the proverbial brick house with two car garage, vacation homes, technology, and prosperity. It is the US laws, its sacred Constitution, the sacrifice of the founding fathers who gave us our Republic are the muscles, bones, and spirit of American Dream. The supremacy of the rule of law and not the whims of a dictator, a king, a Shah, or an Ayatollah is the basic foundation of the majesty of American democracy.

On the local scene, a few years ago, with astonishment and awe, I sat and watched the court proceedings of the former NC Governor Michael Easley on television- astonished, because a former Chief Executive Officer of a sovereign state was being sentenced, and in awe, because of the unshakable and uncompromising supremacy of the rule of law in America. America from time to time may go down financially, retrenched economically, and our state may have a three billion dollar budget deficit, but nowhere on earth the sanctity and supremacy of the rule of law are so cherished and enshrined in the nation’s psyche as they are in America.

God has blessed our beloved nation, the United States of America, and we are blessed to be Americans.


*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He received Raleigh Medal of Art in 2001, inducted to Raleigh Hall of Fame 2013, elected Lifetime Trustee, North Carolina Symphony in 2015, and 2016 recipient of NC Award, Fine Arts.

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