Former CLC Instructor, Veteran Talks Constitution at Rosenmeier Forum – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD – The document that gave birth to the United States and arguably the world’s greatest democracy was not easy.

The Rosenmeier Forum at Central Lakes College on Tuesday, March 29 focused on the US Constitution. The public was invited to the “We Created a Republic – If You Can Keep It” forum.

“You know, this Constitution is quite a document, but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on…unless it’s written in the hearts and minds of the people,” said speaker Buford Johnson to the audience by dramatically tearing up paper on stage to illustrate his indicate.

Each one of you must be part of this great nation.

—Buford Johnson

Johnson is a board member of the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government and a former college professor, teaching courses on American history, the Constitution, war and literature, American foreign policy and more.

“The biggest problem we have today is that we’ve kind of overlooked it in our schools, we’re not used to it,” Johnson said in his opening remarks at the forum on the Constitution. “And I think there’s a renewal in trying to figure out what we have and why we have it.”

The mission of the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government is in part “to inform, educate, and encourage residents of central Minnesota to participate in effective governance, planning, and leadership.”

“Everyone of you needs to be a part of this great nation,” said Johnson, who is also a small business owner and Vietnam War veteran.

Paula Persons of Brainerd said after the forum: “I am concerned in our schools that we are not teaching the Constitution. We don’t teach civics. These children come out of school and do not know their history. It concerns me.

The Gordon Rosenmeier Center was named after State Senator Gordon Rosenmeier, a Little Falls lawyer and influential legislator who represented Crow Wing and Morrison counties in the Legislative Assembly from 1941 to 1970.

The audience listens to Buford Johnson Tuesday, March 29, 2022, speak about the U.S. Constitution during a Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government forum at the Chalberg Theater at Central Lakes College.

Frank Lee/Brainerd Dispatch

“We are delighted to have Buford Johnson here tonight to speak about his views on the United States Constitution, why the Founding Fathers wrote the document he did, and why and how he did so well at this great nation,” said Steve Wenzel. , executive director of the center. “It was a document created for a small rural agricultural society of 3 million people in 13 colonies…but it has adapted so well to the revolutionary changes that have taken place in America over the past 240 years since it was written. of the Constitution of the United States.”

Johnson added: “We had republics that existed before. They all collapsed.

Persons, in the forum audience on Tuesday, was surrounded by students.

“It was very interesting to understand — to learn from him — and I knew he knew the subject matter, so I wanted to be there to find out what he thought about it,” Persons said afterwards. “And it was interesting to learn the history of the Constitution.”

The United States Constitution is made up of the original preamble that begins with “We the people” and seven articles that came into effect in 1789, and 27 amendments added between 1791 and 1992. The first 10 of these amendments are known as the name of Bill of Rights.

“Basically we ended up with 13 independent sovereign nations, and in doing so we had some issues…so the Continental Congress was developed,” Johnson explained to the audience.

The Continental Congress refers to either of two assemblies of representatives from the American colonies during the revolutionary period: the first was held in 1774 to voice grievances against British colonial policy.

“He knew the backgrounds of the people who wrote it,” Persons said. “I thought there were fewer people involved in drafting the Constitution…and how those men could be as brilliant as they were and put that together into something that we can still use to this day was surprising. .”

The second Colonial Representative Assemblies convened in 1775, created the Continental Army, issued the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and temporarily functioned as the legislative body of the United States.

“‘We the people,’ it starts…and that was a big deal at the time,” Johnson said of the Constitution. “What do you mean ‘We the people’?” It should be “We the States”.

The Articles of the Constitution establish the system of government; the Bill of Rights primarily sets out the rights guaranteed to the people. The rest of the amendments expand on the original document (banning slavery, expanding the right to vote, limiting the terms of a president, etc.).

“States had to ratify it. It took them over two years to do it,” Johnson said of the Constitution. “But the big cry was for a bill of rights and we got them. … The countries of Europe were waiting for it to collapse. … This does not happen.

The most important elements of articles and amendments are often identified as clauses, such as the commercial clause of article 1, section 8; the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment or the Equal Protection Clause of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.

“I think by the grace of God we got through this…even with all the human nature and all the fighting that went on, we ended up with the greatest Constitution ever written,” Johnson said of the controversial nature of the drafting of the Constitution.

“We have the right to change the Constitution. It is a living document. If you are going to make changes, use the amendment route. Don’t create laws that are unconstitutional,” Johnson said.

People have spoken of the January 6 riot at the Nation’s Capitol: “If you don’t know your story, you’re going to be in trouble. You will repeat it.

FRANK LEE can be reached at 218-855-5863 or

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