A “Northern Exposure” star is getting some southern exposure in Gainesville while spreading her message about the current state of America.
Janine Turner, made famous by her role as Maggie O’Connell in the hit television series, stopped by Riverside Military Academy on Monday to speak with the cadets about Constituting America, an organization she founded. Its aim is to “reach, educate and inform America’s citizens and youth about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding (citizens’) freedoms and rights.”
“I believe that our republic cannot be preserved without a general knowledge of the United States Constitution,” Turner said to the cadets.
She stressed the importance of familiarizing oneself with the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights to better understand how the government is supposed to operate.
With that knowledge, she said, freedoms and rights can be preserved, and the United States, in future generations, can be prepared for inevitable challenges.
“It’s something that really needs to be put in the light in America,” said Edgar Dowling, battalion commander and a senior at Riverside. “Our generation is not very involved ... letting teenagers know what actually started this country and how to keep it together would definitely do some good in our society.”
Turner also emphasized to the cadets that the Constitution was based on nonpartisan beliefs and is the cornerstone for all Americans.
“It’s not for the Democrats. It’s not for the Republicans,” Turner said. “It’s for all Americans.”
Alec Ruppenthal, a senior cadet major who has been at the academy since he was in the seventh grade, said he wants to continue his military career to defend the Constitution and what it means for the nation.
“(Turner) was correct in saying that politics today is more focused on political parties instead of what America needs,” Ruppenthal said. “People don’t vote on issues as much as they vote for what parties they are for.”
Turner also brought along her daughter, Juliette, who is the national youth director for the foundation.
Juliette spoke to the cadets about the foundation’s contest: We the People 9.17, which spans all grade levels and includes essays, public service announcements and songs. Winners are awarded scholarship money.
“We’re used to hearing all these older people talk, but it’s hard to relate to that,” Ruppenthal said. “So, it’s nice to have a younger person speak. It helps because it shows that there are other people my age that care about the Constitution.”
Turner and her daughter spent the early part of the afternoon touring the Riverside campus and ate lunch with the cadets.
“I want you to understand how important the U.S. Constitution is,” Turner said to the cadets. “You are the future of our country and our republic is in your hands.”
For more information on the student contest visit Constituting America.