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We Hold These Truths — Radio Broadcast of December 15, 1941

The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15th, 1791. At the 150 year anniversary of the Bill Of Rights, every major radio station broadcast this commemoration to a cornerstone of our Republic. “We Hold These Truths” was a one hour dramatic program written by Norman Corwin for the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.


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Scheduled to be heard on all four networks on December 15, 1941, events would turn the program into something bigger than a simple commemoration. The federal government commissioned the broadcast and preparations were made for the show before Pearl Harbor, of course. With the nation suddenly at war, the program took on a special meaning - it holds the record for the largest radio audience for a dramatic program. Some have estimated that 63 million listeners, about half of the US population at the time, tuned in to the program.

Heard in the show, broadcast from Hollywood, New York and Washington, DC, are Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Bob Burns, Walter Huston Marjorie Main, Edward G. Robinson, and Rudy Vallee. The music was composed and conducted by Bernard Herrman; Leopold Stokowski conducts the national anthem at the end of the program after remarks by President Roosevelt.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights establish the agreement between the individual people and their government. The National Archives introduces the Bill Of Rights in context:

 

During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.

 

The Constitution and Bill of Rights are what fuels the light that shines out of the “beacon on the hill”. Our birthright. Won by our forebearers. To be protected and handed down to our children and to our grandchildren.

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