U.S. Constitution page 1

Is Constitution Day Even a Thing?

Why celebrate?

By Doug Powell

According to federal law (36 U.S. Code § 106), it really is a thing. So, when is it exactly? Hold onto your hats, folks, as Constitution Day is quickly approaching on September 17th!

Stars stripes red white blue Happy Constitution Day!I call it our country’s “lost in the shuffle” holiday. Just a couple of months ago, we all gathered to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th with fireworks, BBQs, parades, and many enjoyed a well-deserved day off from work. Now we are all looking forward to the big run of fall and winter holidays starting this weekend.

It is safe to say that most Americans know little about Constitution Day or that it even exists. So, if you want to have some good clean fun in a couple of weeks, try this on for size. This year, September 17th happens to fall on a Sunday. Go up to someone at church, the grocery store, or in your neighborhood, then smile and cheerfully say, “Happy Constitution Day!” Enjoy the blank stares or the incoherent mumbling back, “Uhhh, yeah, Happy Con-sti-tu-tion Day?” Awkward, but amusing.

What’s the big deal and why should we acknowledge this date in our nation’s history? Here are a handful of reasons to consider.

Reason #1

The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. That means all Americans have had the unique benefit and societal stability of being governed by the same document for 236 years. In all other countries, a constitution only lasts an average of 17 years. In many cases, a citizen of another country must navigate through several different constitutions and their fluctuating effects during his or her lifetime. We should be very thankful for the dependability of our Constitution and its rule of law. As President Calvin Coolidge once noted,

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”

Reason #2

Our Constitution is comprised of 7 Articles and 27 Amendments. In Article VI of the Constitution, it states in paragraph two, that

“This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme law of the land.”

The word “supreme” means “highest in authority.” Therefore, the U.S. Constitution trumps any other law, whether that be local, state, or federal. So, if you suspect that a law is “unconstitutional,” how would you know that you are correct? What we know about our Constitution has a direct impact on our individual freedoms. George Mason, considered the Father of the Bill of Rights echoed this sentiment,

“No free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

There is nothing more fundamental to our liberty than studying and understanding the United States Constitution.

Reason #3

According to federal law, September 17th is officially labeled, “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.” Sadly, the latest statistics regarding Constitutional and civic knowledge are quite alarming. Nationally, only 30% of those who have gone through the public education system know that the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” and only 38% can name the three branches of government. Currently, 30% of American adults and 3% of American public high school students can pass a U.S. Citizenship test. Considering that the original purpose of public education was to prepare active and informed citizens, Constitution Day is a wonderful opportunity to reverse these statistical trends.

Reason #4

Federal law mandates that any school which receives federal funding must provide a program on the Constitution to their students on Constitution Day (this year it is recognized on Monday, September 18th). Most schools are challenged with lack of teachers and resources. And if you are up to speed on the Constitution, you could be a valuable resource in helping your local school fulfill their obligation under federal law. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States and co-author of the Federalist Papers (which helped explain the purpose and substance of the Constitution) emphasized the importance of knowing and celebrating the Constitution with this statement,

“Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the constitution of his country, and teach the rising generation to be free. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated, and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.”

What better time for the schools to brush up on the Constitution than on Constitution Day?

Reason #5

See if you can recall the five “freedoms” or inalienable rights found in the First Amendment. If you can, congratulations! Less than one American in a thousand can name all five. You do not have to look further than recent governmental edicts called “lockdowns” which trampled three of these rights to freely exercise: our religion, speech, and right to assemble. What is even more important to know is that these rights are given to us by our Creator, not by government. According to Alexander Hamilton, inalienable rights

“are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the aid of the Divinity itself and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Therefore, nothing given to us by God can ever be taken away by government. The purpose of the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights (making up the first 10 Amendments) is to simply codify and strengthen these rights. The role of government, whether that is local, state, or federal, is merely to protect these God-given inalienable rights. You can use Constitution Day as an opportunity to further get to know your rights under the Constitution.

First Amendment

Amendment I.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or  prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

US Flag on map of U.S. with 5 freedoms

Happy Constitution Day, Fellow Americans!

Learn more about Constitution Day HERE.

(Doug Powell is an honest seeker of truth, committed to reestablishing the original intent of the American founding, correcting misconceptions of American history and the miseducation of receptive Americans, including himself.)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)