On September 17, 1787, leaders from 13 colonies signed the United States Constitution. This officially created the country and earned those 39 men the title Founding Fathers. Today, September 17 is celebrated as Constitution Day. It’s a day that honors the nation’s birthday, the signing of the constitution, and the citizenship of the people.
Constitution Day was declared an official national holiday in 2004 after Louise Leigh and many supporters worked hard for several years to make it happen. September 17 was already Citizenship Day, but Leigh and those who supported her cause loved the Constitution and believed that the day should be called Constitution Day as well.
Citizenship Day got started back in 1940 after William Randolph Hearst suggested a day be set aside to celebrate being an American citizen. Initially, it was called I am an American Day, and it was the third Sunday in May. Many years later, Olga T. Weber had the idea that since the Constitution was signed on September 17, that’s when Americans should celebrate their citizenship. Congress agreed, and so did President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and I am an American Day was replaced with Citizenship Day on September 17 in 1953.
Today, September 17 is much better known as Constitution Day than Citizenship Day, but both holidays still officially fall on that day. And they still celebrate the same things: the founding of the United States by signing the Constitution and the honor of being a citizen.