John W. Eyster: How are you celebrating U.S. Constitution Day?


Thursday marks U.S. Constitution Day, the 228th anniversary of the adoption/signing of our U.S. Constitution. The date is the official “U.S. Constitution” and “Citizenship Day” which is a combined date as outlined by Time and Date website. Check this website for more information.

Here in WISCONSIN, “U.S. Constitution Day” is one of the twenty-one statutory “School Year Observation Days.” You can check on these Observance Days using this link. WI state law requires every public school in WI to “observe” each of the 21 days.

The information about “U.S. Constitution Day” on the DPI website is, “Representatives of 12 of the 13 original states signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution, with its 27 amendments, defines the federal system of government and embodies the principles on which this country was founded. The National Archives provides resources, including a scan of the U.S. Constitution, and the Library of Congress provides resources that can assist school districts in planning a program on the U.S. Constitution. Enacted June 10, 1987, from the 1987 Laws of Wisconsin, Act 16.”

Each local school makes the decisions as to HOW to “OBSERVE” the day. In fact, many schools just plain do NOT observe one or more of these days. So, what about our “U.S. CONSTITUTION DAY”? I suggest YOU may want to inquire with your LOCAL SCHOOL and/or SCHOOL DISTRICT to find out how our “U.S. CONSTITUTION DAY” is being observed this year. If you get information, I hope you will POST a report as a comment with this WE THE PEOPLE blog post. Remember: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Having taught Social Studies at Parker High School, Janesville for many years and Political Science in the UW system, I have researched resources online for our U.S. Constitution. I URGE you to access and surf the OUTstanding website of the National Constitution Center.

The website has various online informational and activity features. I enjoyed their feature, “Which Founder Are You?” most. Which FOUNDER are YOU most like?

In my classes through the years, I required my students both in high school and college to MEMORIZE the PREAMBLE of our US Constitution. I gave a quiz on CONSTITUTION DAY each year.

IF you need to review the text of the PREAMBLE, use this link to Wikipedia's “Preamble to the United States Constitution.”

Why is the PREAMBLE significant? First, it specifically identifies 6 basic MOTIVATIONS of the Founders for the writing of the NEW U.S. CONSTITUTION. Second, our U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the PREAMBLE is part and parcel – fully integrated text of our U.S. Constitution. I would assert that the PREAMBLE clearly and specifically articulates 6 principles of our U.S. government. Do YOU really agree with ALL 6 principles? IF NOT, which ones trouble YOU? WHY?

Remember: Last Friday, we observed the 14th anniversary of 9/11/2001, the date of the tragic terrorist attacks on the USA. TODAY, we celebrate the 228th anniversary of 9/17/1787 when the Founders signed the draft U.S. Constitution and sent it off to the states for ratification.

What IF that draft constitution had NOT been ratified? It was declared ratified by the Articles of Confederation Congress on September 13, 1788. The Congress set-up procedures for the new U.S. government to start working on March 4, 1789 with the first session of the U.S. Congress convening. George Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789. New York City was the capital of the new U.S. government.

AND NOW, we celebrate the 228th anniversary of the signing of our U.S. Constitution with GRATITUDE! Our U.S. Constitution is the oldest WRITTEN Constitution for the governance of a nation in the whole wide world. It has been a model to numerous countries in writing their own constitutions.