When we think of important dates celebrating our country’s history, we tend to think first of Independence Day on July 4. A lesser known – but also important – date is Constitution Day on Sept. 17. Constitution Day is observed each year to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and to recognize those who have become U.S. citizens.
The origins of this observance can be traced back to 1940, when Congress passed a joint resolution that designated the third Sunday in May as “I Am An American Day,” a day to publicly recognize all who had become U.S. citizens.
Congress repealed this joint resolution in 1952, instead enacting a law that moved the date to Sept. 17 to honor the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution. It was still called “Citizenship Day,” and the law urged civil and educational authorities to properly observe the day by providing instruction on responsibilities and opportunities availed to U.S. citizens.
In 2004, Congress passed an amendment proposed by Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) that changed the designation of this day to “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.” Included in Byrd’s amendment was the requirement that educational institutions receiving federal funds should provide instruction for students about the Constitution every Sept. 17. In 2005, the United States Department of Education indicated the law would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind. That means our children will be learning more about the Constitution next week.
Wondering how you can support Constitution education at home?
- Read the Constitution together. Get a copy here.
- Talk about what each branch of government does – executive, legislative and judicial.
- Make a list of three questions you would ask the framers of the Constitution. Search online for answers.
- Ask your children what qualities would make a good president?
- Do a Constitution trivia quiz together. Click here.
For more information on Constitution Day, visit the National Constitution Center.
Check out this link to the National Constitution Center’s interactive Constitution.
Another good resource is the National Archives.
Education World also has some good lessons.