In a Georgian Revival building not far from where James Madison and the Founding Fathers drew up and debated the finer points of the United States Constitution lies an impressive collection of documents and books dating back to that time. Among these documents housed in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) is one of the original 13 surviving copies of the Official Edition of the Constitution, forged from the Constitutional Convention in 1787, as well as an impressive collection of handwritten drafts, marked with edits and objections from several participants.

Some might, amid the digitalization of everything from music to movies, deem such a place as anachronistic or even unneeded, as technology can now reduce a roomful of words into a single file stored on a laptop.

An auction at Sotheby’s of another one of those 13 copies of the Constitution on Thursday night suggests otherwise. It sold for a record $43.2 million, eclipsing the $30.8 million spent by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates on a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific notebook known as the Codex Leicester in 1994. The buyer of the Constitution wasn’t immediately announced. The copy that was auctioned had sold for $165,000 in 1988.

» READ MORE: Rare first printing of Constitution sells for record $43M

The sale even attracted an online group of more than 17,000 cryptocurrency investors who reportedly banded together to raise more than $40 million in a single week to make a bid. The group, known as ConstitutionDAO, said it lost out to the anonymous bidder.

The why of all this interest is simultaneously simple and complex. Viewing the largess of the document, reading it, even holding it, brings both the period and the perspectives of its influencers to life. It reminds us that the Constitution was not frozen in time then, and should not be frozen today. The original and early drafts of the Constitution show both the evolution of the document and the inherent flexibility that allows it to live, breathe, and grow. For all of its flaws and for all of the fights over how to interpret it (including a Civil War), the Constitution remains the glue that binds the nation together and pushes it forward.

It’s natural and good that at a time of discord — when so many are questioning who we are as a nation — that we return to the original documents of the founding. The Constitution is the longest-serving charter of government in the world for a reason. Because for all the debates over its meaning and application, the Constitution works.

By that measure, viewing the original document, and its earlier iterations, can and should create emotional connections and a deeper understanding and appreciation of our shared history, the mystic chords of memory that Abraham Lincoln spoke so eloquently about.

As someone who represented Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District from 2005 to 2018, I had a unique vantage point when it came to the Constitution and an appreciation of what it does, what it does not do, and what it can do for our future.

Examining a copy of the actual Constitution like the one auctioned off at Sotheby’s or the one at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania offers glimpses into the meanings and intent of those whose signatures are on it. The drafts at HSP show the Constitution as it was being debated and written in the summer of 1787, an active document taking shape in real time, which should still be evolving today.

The Sotheby’s auction got a lot of attention given the record sale price and the unique crowdsourcing bid by the cryptocurrency investors, and deservedly so. But it is my hope that the attention will remind us that these documents and the history behind them must be preserved, nurtured, and, most of all, remembered. For like spirits of the past, present, and future, they come to life on the page for any student of our collective history, whether they be constitutional scholars, high school students, or even public servants seeking guidance and clarity.

And that is priceless.

Charlie Dent served as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District from 2005 to 2018.