Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.
The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004. Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as “Citizenship Day”. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.
Let Constitution Day inspire us to understand our founding, our rights
By Buck Files Houston Community Newspapers
We hear a lot of talk these days about the U.S. Constitution and how important it is to protecting our liberties. But surveys continue to show a disturbing trend of many Americans not understanding the Constitution and its relevance to our lives today.
After all, with all the technology we have now, why should we care about a document that was written 225 years ago on parchment and with a feather quill pen?
For starters, just imagine life without the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights guarantees some of our most precious liberties, including freedom of religion, speech, and press, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and private property rights. The Constitution created the framework for a strong but limited national government and established the fundamental rights of all U.S. citizens.
Our Constitution is the foundation of the legal authority for our nation and federal government, and it also established the system of checks and balances with three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. This separation of powers was crucial to the framers of the Constitution – and still is today – to prevent an oppressive government similar to what the British enacted on colonial America.
Although written long ago, the Constitution is as relevant to our lives today as ever. For example, the Constitution is the governing document that lets us post messages on Facebook, Twitter, and watch videos on YouTube. It also allows us to have differing opinions, enjoy the freedom to express them on blogs or elsewhere and even demonstrate peacefully.
While it’s appropriate to learn about and celebrate the Constitution on this day, we also should take this time to renew our focus on civics education in our schools and society. Today’s young people soon will be voting, sitting on juries and running for political office, and they must have the civics knowledge to make informed decisions and be engaged citizens. Research has shown that individuals who receive a solid civics education are more likely to be involved in their communities through activities such as volunteering and voting.