Constitution Day speaker encourages a ‘crossroads generation’ to ‘know your history’
Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer for the Charter Institute at Erskine Cameron Runyan delivered Erskine’s Constitution Day address Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Runyan recalled that in 1996, when he was a student at another college in South Carolina, one of his professors told students, “You have been taught by your parents and teachers that there is something exceptional about the founding of this country,” and then set out to disabuse them of that notion.
A quarter of a century after his professor sought to convince students that there is nothing exceptional about the founding of the United States, Runyan examined some key moments in American history and told Erskine students, “what we have achieved in this nation is not ‘normal.’”
Among Runyan’s cited examples was the signing of the Mayflower Compact, America’s first document of self-government. Some of the prospective settlers had argued that since their Virginia-bound ship had instead made landfall in Massachusetts, they were no longer bound by the Virginia Company’s charter. During a time of difficulty and discord, the colonists made a covenant with God and with each other, avoiding a descent into lawlessness.
Telling students, “You are a crossroads generation,“ Runyan warned them that “the kings of culture are rewriting your history” and urged them to “know your history.”
Erskine’s Constitution Day is celebrated as “John Drummond Constitution Day” in memory of the late state senator, who served South Carolina’s District 10 from 1966 to 2008.
Senior Tome Filkov of Lackawanna, N.Y., presented a biographical tribute to Drummond, who was known for his leadership and integrity. A decorated veteran of World War II, Drummond was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate by his colleagues in 1996. In 2002, he delivered Erskine’s commencement address and was awarded an honorary degree.
Erskine Chaplain Josh Chiles introduced the speaker and Xavier “Zay” Allen, a senior from Tyler, Texas, read the scripture.
All institutions of higher education receiving federal funds must provide educational programming celebrating the history, meaning, and importance of the United States Constitution on or near Sept. 17, the day the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia in 1787.