Here ye, here ye, let it be known that today, on September 17, we celebrate the joining together of our nation under a single document. But also be aware that this day in history is also a celebration of all those who have come to the United States and become citizens. Today, we take part in our Constitution Day. We celebrate today to commemorate when delegates came together in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when they signed the US Constitution into action. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that the holiday took on the full name it bears today. It was then that Senator Robert Byrd passed an amendment that effectively renamed the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” which requires public schools and institutions to provide information on the history of the country’s constitution.
It’s a day to celebrate our past, but also a day to celebrate our future, by honoring those who have become American citizens, and inviting others to come and do the same.
Why Constitution Day is Important
A. It’s a living document
The constitution is referred to as a living document because it can be amended through a governmental process. In fact, the process for amending the constitution can be found in the constitution itself. While yes, it can sometimes take time and effort to make an amendment, that’s actually what the founders hoped for, in an attempt to ensure the power remained with the people. It seems they really thought of everything.
B. It inspired the world
The idea that colonists could rise up against an empire and form a republic paved the way for countries around the world to try their hand at revolution. In forming our constitution, the Americans inspired the French, who in turn had a similar revolution and change in the way people were governed. Other countries followed suit, bringing the world into an age of Republicanism.
C. It named the president
As the founders worked on the Constitution together, they quibbled over what title the head of government should have. After throwing out “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties,” “Electoral Highness,” and “Excellency,” they settled on the President of the United States of America.
How to Observe Constitution Day
1. Find a James Madison impersonator
No, don’t picture James Madison coming to your party like an Elvis impersonator would. Rather, there are James Madisons that travel and put on informational shows for both kids and adults. Whether it’s through your local government or your kid’s school, learn a bit more about our history and have fun while you’re at it.
2. Throw a Founding Fathers party
We tend to think of our founding fathers as stiff button-ups, and while they certainly were brilliant, they also liked to party. Get your friends together, wear silly wigs, and drink what they greats were drinking: George Washington had his “Fish House Punch,” which was likely made of rum, beer, and punch. Thomas Jefferson was the official wine advisor to the president, while James Madison was known to drink a pint of whiskey a day. Pick your presidential poison.
3. Relearn the basics
It’s easy to forget what we learn in high school, so try taking a day to go over the basics of what the Constitution says, how our government was meant to work, and how that applies today. It’s important to be an educated, informed citizen - it’s actually exactly what the founders wanted.
Constitution Day - Key Moments
April 30, 1789
After an election, George Washington is sworn in as the first president of the United State of America
June 21, 1788
9 of 13 state ratify the Constitution, rendering it officially established
December 7, 1787
Delaware Is the First
Delaware is the first state to ratify the Constitution;
September 17, 1787
The approved Constitution is signed by 39 delegates from 12 states (all but Rhode Island)
May 25 - September 17 1787
The Constitutional Convention
Delegates meet at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Penn. to draft the Constitution