Monday, September 12, 2011

Constitution & Citizenship Day

Congress has set aside September 17th to observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Citizenship Day was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1940 to be celebrated on the third Sunday in May and designated as “I Am An American Day.”

In 1952 Congress repealed this resolution and passed a new law that moved the date to September 17th, which commemorated the date that the Constitution was signed in 1787, but retained its original purpose to honor those who had obtained citizenship status. The law urged civil authorities to make instruction available on citizen responsibilities.
Three years later, in 1955, the Daughters of the American Revolution adopted a resolution to designate September 17-23, as Constitution Week. The Resolution was forwarded to the Congress, who under the sponsorship of Sen. Knowland (CA), adopted it, and President Eisenhower issued a proclamation. The following year, through Congressional approval, the Constitution Week Resolution became an annual event under Public Law 915.

Senator Robert Byrd (W. VA), famous for carrying a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, in 2004 successfully urged the Congress to designate September 17th as Constitution and Citizenship Day. The law required that “the head of every federal agency provide each employee with education and training materials concerning the Constitution” and “each education institution that receives federal funds hold an educational program on the Constitution for students on September 17 of each year.”

The Massanutten Regional Library, to acknowledge the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, has prepared a brochure with lists of resources available at the Library to help teachers prepare lesson plans for September 16 (the seventeenth falls on a Saturday this year). The brochure also has a “Constitutional Trivia” quiz. The library will also present a program open to everyone called “Celebrate the Constitution” on Sept. 16th at 1pm in the Children’s Meeting Room.


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