State Fair of Virginia feature

Virginia State Fair goers enjoyed rides at last year’s event in Caroline County.

The U.S. Constitution embodies the promise of liberty that represents our deepest democratic values. Khizr Khan brought his passion for this country’s foundational documents Tuesday night to historic St. John’s Church as part of the Walter W. Craigie Speaker Series. A Gold Star father, author and lawyer, Khan catapulted to national attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, waving a small copy of the Constitution and offering to lend it to then-candidate Donald Trump during a speech to the Democratic National Convention. He described the Richmond church a “sacred and hallowed place,” calling it “humbling” to speak within the same walls as where Patrick Henry delivered his ringing “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775. Khan immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1980, and first read the Declaration of Independence as a law student in his native Pakistan. He urged every American to read the declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the oath of citizenship that new countrymen take. We agree. Americans need to keep the flames of liberty burning bright.

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Today — Sept. 28 — marks the 26th annual National Public Lands Day and the third annual Virginia Public Lands Day. Across the commonwealth, Virginians can celebrate by visiting state parks for free and participating in a variety of activities, including a cemetery restoration, bird surveys, shoreline cleanup and lectures about invasive plants. See the full list of state activities at https://bit.ly/2lzqBsM. “Public Lands Day is an excellent opportunity to highlight Virginia’s incredible natural resources and to remind us all why it’s critical that they receive ample funding,” Locke Ogens of The Nature Conservancy told us, reminding us that last year, Gov. Ralph Northam pledged to increase natural resource funding to 2% of the state budget — up from 0.6%. “This increase in funding is ultimately what will allow Virginia to meet its land conservation and water quality goals.”

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Congratulations to Chesterfield County’s Midlothian High School for being recognized nationally as a top school. On Thursday, Midlothian High was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education — one of seven Virginia schools to earn the distinction this year and the only one in the Richmond area to receive the accolade. In total, 362 schools across the United States earned the title. Midlothian becomes the seventh Chesterfield school to receive the designation since the program’s inception in 1982.

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On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong took control of China and proclaimed the nation would be known as the People’s Republic of China. Despite recent economic reforms, the Communist Party has maintained firm control of the country since that day. On Tuesday, Beijing will celebrate its 70th anniversary. It’s a big day for them — this communist country has managed to survive longer than the Soviet Union. Determined the day will be observed without anything going wrong, the country’s leadership continues to add to its list of things that will be banned that day. Verboten are kites, balloons, pigeons, walkie-talkies and drones. Activists and protesters have been told they are not to even think about protesting or speaking to foreign media. Government websites list words and phrases that also are banned on Tuesday. There will be no fueling your car or motorcycle that day, and forget about having a celebratory drink. In some parts of the country, alcohol has been off-limits since Sept. 15. A “Happy Birthday” is in order, we suppose, although it sure doesn’t sound like much of a party to us.

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It’s the beginning of fall, so that means the State Fair of Virginia is underway. The annual celebration of all things Virginia opened Friday at Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and will continue through Oct. 6. From thrilling rides to pig races to corn dogs to agriculture and livestock, the State Fair has something for everyone. And while the arrival of the State Fair usually coincides with the rainy season in Virginia, this year the weather promises to be sunny and fair. Although we need the rain, fairgoers will enjoy the forecast.

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Music can be a universal language that speaks to everyone. We believe all children should be afforded the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. So do the members of the Southern rock band The Vegabonds. The group recently partnered with the nonprofit organization Can’d Aid Foundation to donate musical instruments to Albert Hill Middle School. On Friday, the Vegabonds delivered violins, violas, a saxophone and clarinet to the school. Following the presentation, the Vegabonds played music for the students and answered a few questions. What a wonderful gesture. We’ll await news of the next school concert.

— Pamela Stallsmith and Robin Beres

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