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  • How to Celebrate Constitution Day

    September 17 is Constitution Day.  On this date in 1787, 39 of the original 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document that would eventually be ratified and enshrined as our fundamental law.  Recently, many have observed the relative decline of civic knowledge among American citizens, and have taken steps to improve our understanding of our fundamental law, the limited government which it creates, and the basic liberties which it is designed to protect.

    In 2004, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) sponsored language in an appropriations bill, which passed in 2005, to mandate that all federal agencies and schools receiving federal funds hold educational programs pertaining to the Constitution on Constitution Day.  Thus, today has been recognized – by members of both parties – as a day for honoring and learning about our Constitution.

    So, what are some ways to celebrate Constitution Day?  There is a variety of resources available to those who wish to use this day to teach and learn about our founding document.  The following is a practical guide to some of these resources.

    First, get a copy of the Constitution and read it.  Heritage is literally giving away pocket copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Get yours today.  Or, better yet, order copies for your class or civic organization.
    Second, read a brief introduction to the Constitution and the Constitutional Convention. Buy a copy of the Heritage Guide to the Constitution, which is the definitive clause-by-clause analysis of our governing document.

    Third, take in a lecture on the Constitution and its importance.  Heritage is webcasting a lecture by Robert George from Princeton University today at noon, on www.heritage.org. Or, watch a Heritage panel from the archives on the importance of teaching civics and the Constitution in schools.

    Fourth, check out some of the great online resources that other organizations have made available to teachers and to the general public.  Many of these organizations, such as the National Constitution Center and the Bill of Rights Institute, produce teachers’ lessons that help bring the Constitution into the classroom.

    Other online resources are available to those seeking to know more about the ideas and debates that informed the making of our Constitution.  Gordon Lloyd, a professor at Pepperdine University, has constructed the best, most comprehensive and user-friendly resource on the Constitutional Convention debates available on the web

    Finally, if you think our Constitution should be at the center of all our public policy debates, and not just celebrated one day every year, write to your representatives and tell them that you want to hear them connect their policy ideas to constitutional principles.  As Andrew Busch, a professor at Claremont McKenna College has recently written, too few of our public officials discuss the Constitution in their public addresses, but this will only be remedied by citizens who speak up and demand that their representatives return to constitutional principles.

    The United States has the longest-lasting written Constitution in human history.  Our Constitution is responsible for our greatness and prosperity, and the remarkable stability we experience in our political life.  Where other nations are vulnerable to radical movements which undermine liberty and self-government, our Constitution has been the anchor and ballast by which we have maintained a stable regime.  But if our Constitution is to continue to provide these blessings, we must seize these opportunities to recur to our Constitution’s principles.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to How to Celebrate Constitution Day

    1. Maggie, Toledo OH says:

      I think you've forgotten to point out the hypocrisy. Where does the federal government get the authority to "mandate that all federal agencies and schools receiving federal funds hold educational programs pertaining to the Constitution on Constitution Day"???

      Certainly NOT in the Constitution they're promoting.

      That aside, we should teach the Constitution and then practice it.

    2. Maggie, Toledo OH says:

      And does anyone else find it odd that Congress can pass such a law mandating the teaching of the Constitution, but can't get enough votes to pass the Enumerated Powers Act?

      oh – but I guess this Constitution Day law would never have been passed if the Enumerated Powers Act had been in place.

    3. Allison Wright, Snel says:

      I am a homeschooling mother and am representing our local homeschool group of 85 families. We are holding a mock election on October 21, and I was wondering if you might be able to send us enough copies of the Pocket Constitution for each child to have his own. We anticipate having about 150 children. Also, if you have any other free materials that would be helpful for this event and in educating our children about patriotic citizenship, we would be very grateful. Thank you so much for your consideration.

    4. Thomas Jackson says:

      The founders gave us a fantastic document. Too bad no one has used it since the War Between the States.

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    9. Bill Hartzog, Tucson says:

      I think that if you chose to accept Federal Funds you should do what you are asked to do, its one day out of the year to really teach this forgotten document.

    10. Joel S. Hirschhorn says:

      How to Celebrate Constitution Day

      Joel S. Hirschhorn

      Today, September 17 is Constitution Day, but very, very few Americans know this or will celebrate it. If you think of yourself as a politically engaged, civic-minded and patriotic American, then I urge you to celebrate today by expanding your mind about a critically important but never-used part of our Constitution.

      All you have to do is go to http://www.foavc.org the site of Friends of the Article V Convention and spend some time learning the truth about the option given to us by the Framers because they anticipated that Americans would lose trust and confidence in the federal government. That day has surely arrived. So I beg you to suspend your current beliefs and fears and open your mind to learning the truth about this option.

      An Article V convention was envisioned as a temporary fourth branch of the federal government that, once convened, was not under the control of Congress, the President or the Supreme Court. The convention of state delegates could only propose constitutional amendments, just as Congress has done during our history, and like those they would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

      So why have we never had an Article V convention?

      Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and the oath of office by not respecting the one and only requirement for a convention given in Article V. That is applications from two-thirds of the states. Well, here is an indisputable fact that you can verify by going to http://www.foavc.org: there have been over 600 such state applications and our group is the first and only group to make these available to the public (our job of posting these is not quite yet complete).

      Why has Congress refused to allow us to have an Article V convention? They and all established political interests on the left and right fear direct democracy as manifest through such a convention. They fear many kinds of constitutional amendments that are the only way to obtain major, systemic political reforms. Many examples of possible amendments are on our site, though our organization does not advocate for any amendment, staying totally committed to a nonpartisan advocacy to compel Congress to grant us the first Article V convention.

      Want to rid the political system of corruption by moneyed interests? Then contemplate an amendment that would remove all private money from all political campaigns and activities, replacing it with strict and pure public financing. This approach has been called Clean Money/Clean Elections and has worked when adopted by several states.

      Want to eliminate the perverse impacts of using the Electoral College for presidential elections? Then contemplate an amendment replacing it with the popular vote.

      Want to reduce the excessive powers accumulated by the presidency? Then think about an amendment prohibiting presidential signing statements that undermine the legislative actions of Congress, and also making unconstitutional for Congress to, in any way, transfer its power and authority to declare war to the president.

      Not only go to http://www.foavc.org to expand your knowledge, please consider becoming a member of our organization so that we become strong enough to impose effective pressure on Congress to obey the Constitution. What a fine way to celebrate Constitution Day.

      [Joel S. Hirschhorn is a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention.]

    11. Susan Weidler, New Y says:

      In two weeks I will be teaching The Constitution to a group of homeschoolers. This will be the fourth time over the past ten years that I will be teaching this course over a seven or eight week time. How our Constitution came to be, the personalities involved, and the time period in history is where I begin as this gives life to the words of the Constitution. Thanks for the resource suggestions. We get our pocket Constitutions from another source. By the way, I hope to also include a few short clips from the wonderful HBO production "John Adams" to give the students a sense of the times and personalities involved.

    12. glen goulding says:

      OK I am a working gran father. my wife and I are raising 2 grandsons, and my daughter and her two sons just moved in after losing her job.I make 7.50 hr work hard, you asked me to send money good luck there, you promised to send me copies of the constitution, I asked for 8 to 10 so I can teach my grandchildren about the constitution, I don't trust schools with this job. I'm a working man losing but the USA is worth passing on to the next generation.if you don't think so please remove me from your mailing list

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