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Constitution Day – The First Day of Constitution Week

A time to celebrate and learn about the foundation of the United States.

By:  |  September 20, 2021  |    466 Words
GettyImages-1210398861 Constitution sign

(Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate, a majority of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention signed one of the United States’ most essential founding documents. The ninth of the 13 states ratified it on June 21, 1788, and the Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789.

Now we celebrate that initial signing every September 17 – called Constitution Day – and for the week that follows, known as Constitution Week.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day was officially created in 2004, thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Byrd. Before then, the occasion was known as Citizenship Day. Byrd’s law required schools and government offices to run programs on September 17 to help people learn about America’s founding.

On the first Constitution Day, in 2005, Byrd declared:

“Just as the birth of our nation depended on the quality, knowledge, and experience of the men who gave it life, its continued vitality depends on the efforts of our generation, and of future generations, to keep the vision of its Framers alive.

It depends on the personal commitment of each and every one of us to learn, to understand, and to preserve the governing principles that are set forth so clearly and powerfully in the text of our remarkable Constitution.”

Constitution Week

The week-long celebration was started by an organization called the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Founded in the year 1890, the DAR is a women’s group with more than 950,000 members. It all began when four women “felt the desire to express their patriotic feelings and were frustrated by their exclusion from men’s organizations.” So they started their own. The women worked to commemorate those who “fought to make this country free and independent.”

According to the group, its aim is to “perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence.” Another goal is to carry out the instruction of George Washington when he told Americans in his Farewell Address “to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.” In other words, Washington hoped the people would promote education among Americans.

In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to assign a week each year to celebrate the Constitution. The request was adopted and a law to create Constitution Week was signed on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Today, the DAR is still involved in the occasion, promoting celebrations across the country.

Celebrating the Constitution

One common way to celebrate Constitution Week is to learn something about the Constitution and what it means for America. Lots of communities put on special events. The DAR holds its own annual event called Bells Across America. All over the country, bells are rung for a full minute at 4 p.m., which is around the time the Constitution was signed.

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