September 17th, U.S. Constitution Day
The United States Constituion was written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789.
More than two centuries after its ratification, the United States Constitution remains a vital and living document, strengthened by amendments, serving as both guide and protector of U.S. citizens and their elected officials. It has survived civil war, economic depressions, assassinations, and even terrorist attacks, to remain a source of wisdom and inspiration.
The creation of the U.S. Constitution depended upon the knowledge, experience and dedication of its framers, just as its endurance depends upon the knowledge and experience of each succeeding generation of Americans. For this reason, it is important for us to learn and understand the governing principles of our nation, set forth in the Constitution.
To encourage all Americans to learn more about the Constitution, Congress in 1956 established Constitution Week, to begin each year on September 17th, the date in 1787 when delegates to the Convention signed the Constitution. In 2004, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia included key provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2005 designating September 17th of each year as Constitution Day and requiring public schools and governmental offices to provide educational programs to promote a better understanding of the Constitution.
In May of 2005, Congress enacted a law stating that "Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.'' For purposes of this requirement, "educational institutions'' includes but is not limited to "local educational agencies'' and "institutions of higher education'' receiving Federal funding. Section 111 requires that Constitution Day be held on September 17 of each year, commemorating the September 17, 1787 signing of the Constitution. However, when September 17 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, Constitution Day shall be held during the preceding or following week."[Federal Register: May 24, 2005 (volume 70, Number 99)] [Notices] [Page 29727]
Associate Professor, Government Information Librarian