"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America" – Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Today, September 17, 2013, is Constitution Day (also called Citizenship Day). This day celebrates the 226th anniversary of date when our forefathers signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
Citizenship Day was established by Congress and signed into law by President Truman on February 29, 1952. The purpose of this federally mandated observance was to honor all new naturalized U.S. citizens.
Constitution Day was established when Senator Robert Byrd attached an amendment to the 2004 Omnibus spending bill (Public Law 108-447, § 111(c)(1)(A)). This amendment provided that Constitution Day would be observed along with the pre-existing Citizenship Day on September 17 of each year.
The purpose of the combined holiday is make the public aware of the importance of citizenship and to provide a teachable moment to students of our public schools. As defined by law,
“The civil and educational authorities of States, counties, cities, and towns are urged to make plans for the proper observance of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.”
So what can you do to celebrate Constitution Day? Stop what you are doing and take a quiz on the Constitution. On the short side, the Washington Post has provided a 13-question quiz. If you think you know the subject well, then try out the 50-question quiz provided by the Constitution Facts website. You should prepare yourself to be humbled on this one, though.
Our Constitution is truly a remarkable document. James Madison described it succinctly this way: “The union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.” Few truer words were ever written.
Despite our Constitution’s unparalled success in the last 226 years, our founding fathers did indeed leave us with concerns about its long-term success. So we are reminded of this story:
"At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly: "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic if you can keep it" responded Franklin."
If we can keep it indeed. We veterans have done our part in keeping our Constitution alive by serving our country. We truly hope that our politicians are doing their part for the same reason.