Editorial: Consitution Day celebrates our history

Tomorrow, Sept. 17, is Constitution

Day, a day set aside by Congress to encourage all Americans to remember

the document that

is the underpinning of our nation’s freedom and liberty. Congress

also made the whole week of Sept. 17-23, Constitution Week.

The origins of the Constitution day and

week holiday can be traced back to 1911 when Iowa schools recognized

Constitution

Day. Then, in 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) were

inspired to form a distinguished committee, which included

future President Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller and General

John Pershing, to promote Constitution Day.

And, not by coincidence, Sept. 17 is

also Citizenship Day. In 1952, Congress authorized the president — Harry

Truman at that

time — to issue an annual proclamation of Citizenship Day to

recall that the day is the anniversary of the signing of the

Constitution in 1787. Then, in 1955, the Daughters of the American

Revolution (DAR) petitioned Congress to combine both for

a Constitution and Citizenship Week from Sept. 17-23.

The two, the Constitution and

citizenship, must go together. Without good citizenship, the

Constitution is just an old piece

of parchment, ignored and taken for granted. Citizenship doesn’t

mean just the privileges and entitlements of being an American

citizen. It also means the carrying out the responsibilities and

duties of being a good citizen.

First, every citizen should educate

himself and herself about American history. We must know our history if

we want to understand

the meaning and importance of the Constitution. If you don’t know

history, go to any public library or book store and get

a good general history of the United States.

A good online source for the history of

our nation and, particularly of the Constitution and other founding

documents, is

the National Archives web site, “The Charters of Freedom,”

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html. You

can actually see the original document and, most importantly, read

it. Don’t just take the word of self-serving politicians

and judges, find out for yourself what the Constitution means, and

what is allows and doesn’t allow.

Second, every citizen should take

citizenship seriously by being an informed and educated voter. If you

know your Constitution,

you can then judge what every politician proposes do, by that

benchmark of our liberty. Is the candidate promising things

that aren’t authorized in the Constitution? If you get a chance,

ask the candidate where in the Constitution his or her promise

is authorized? Then, you’ll know if he or she is a friend or

enemy of the Constitution.

To be a good citizen you must be

protective of the Constitution. Don’t just look to government for what

“goodies” it can

give you. Be a defender of the Constitution by holding politicians

to account by how well, or poorly, they adhere to the principles

of that document.

Use this week, Sept. 17-23, to learn about, or brush up on the Constitution and the responsibilities of citizenship.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.