WASHINGTON, DC – Here’s a bit of advice for parents and teachers. Next time your kids say history class is boring, tell them they have a right to be bored—it’s guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Better yet, perhaps you could use the very last weekend of summer to convey the message. After all, we celebrate Constitution Day 2017 on Sunday, the 17th of September.
In 1940 “I am an American Day” was established by Congress to be observed on the third Sunday in May each year. Meanwhile, a patriotic Ohio woman, Olga T. Weber, was advancing her own notions about how best to disseminate the word about what it means to be an American. By 1952 she was in the midst of a crusade to set aside a day to honor the country’s heritage. A year later, she convinced Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower to tag September 17th as Citizenship Day; the document was signed by the Founding Fathers on the same date in 1787.
Later, another patriot, Louise Leigh-–already immersed in the study of the U.S. Constitution—founded a 1997 non-profit organization called Constitution Day Inc. Her aim was to shift the focus of Citizenship Day to the U.S. Constitution.
In an interview with the journal, Education World, soon after President George W. Bush signed a law in 2004 declaring September 17th to be known as Constitution Day, she explained her purpose:
“I became acutely aware of the uniqueness, the greatness, and the miracle of our Constitution. Until the 1800s, every American child could recite all the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, which is not done today. We celebrate Independence Day on July 4 with gusto. The Revolutionary War gave us independence from England, but the Constitution is the document that gave us freedom, which has made us the greatest and mightiest nation in history,” Ms. Leigh said.
Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, agrees. As he put it: “If the Declaration of Independence is our country’s creed, then the Constitution is its road map. Knowledge of it is essential for an understanding of our history, of our government, of our laws, and of what makes us a free people. The transmission of that knowledge is vital for the survival of our democracy. To make that happen, rising generations must learn, and celebrate, this great bequest of liberty.”
Cole is co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize, an award dedicated to reigniting broad-based interest in the study of history by encouraging authors and publishers to produce more historically accurate and engaging fiction and non-fiction for school children.
He also serves on the panel of judges for the Prize along with Douglas Bradburn, Ph.D., founding director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, VA. The library is devoted to scholarly research about George Washington and the Founding Era.
Dr. Bradburn believes “every American citizen should take some time to reflect on the grand experiment in Democracy of which we are all stewards. They should celebrate the accomplishment of the creation of the Constitution and recognize that we are part of an ongoing story. Each young American needs to study its creation and its purpose, as they will be the ones governing themselves when they come of age. The celebration of the great achievement of the Constitution is not blind worship, but a mature appreciation of the special responsibility we all have to attempt to build a country where the people are sovereign and enjoy their freedoms under a peaceful system which requires accommodation as well as encouraging dissent. The Constitution of the United States is both our birthright and our legacy.”
As for those so-called boring history classes our kids must endure, the founders of the Grateful American Book Prize, suggest they read engaging works that tell America’s stories. “Books like these can make them curious, and wanting to know more,” says education advocate David Bruce Smith, who along with Dr. Cole, founded the Book Prize. And, Smith recommends five books suitable for children in elementary, middle, and high school, which might just do the trick for this year’s Constitution Day festivities:
- If You Were There When They Signed The Constitution by Elizabeth Levy
- The Founders: The 39 Stories Behind the U.S. Constitution by Dennis Brindell Fradin with illustrations by Michael McCurdy
- Constitution Translated for Kids by Cathy Travis
- In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman
- The Constitution of the United States by Sam Fink
The winner of the 2017 Grateful American Book Prize will be revealed at an October 12th reception at The National Archives in Washington, DC .The author will receive $13,000, and a medallion created by American artist, Clarice Smith.
Submissions for 2018 will be accepted January 1st through July 31st.
Yes I agree. God gives us our rights, and the US Constitution guarantees them! However, our democracy was intended for a moral religious people, that is a Christian people. May I say, that if you are not a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and look to scripture and it’s Truth’s as your guide in life, then you are still in bondage. True freedom can only be found in Christ no matter where you live! These USA guarantees that this freedom is allowed to be practiced!!
What is missing the point here in this discussion, is the fact that our children aren’t taught to read the Constitution in school as it is too politically incorrect in wording for our liberals. Yeah I agree most want to talk about the latest book out by Hillary as it is more in tune with the social media. I personally gave my children each a copy of the Constitution ( you ca get copies on Amazon) after that one guy stood up waving it complaining about Trump. If people would actually read it, the liberals would be very upset to learn that their version of thinking is not the only way and we have the right to think differently from the other, we just need to tolerate the other.
Put back study of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence into the curriculum at school.
Maria Rose, you can get copies from nccs.net at bulk rates of 30 to 35 cents per copy. I have given out many hundreds of copies of our Constitution over the past few years. Get crackin’ and good luck.
What’s missing is that our children aren’t taught to read. Period. Wayyyyy back when I was in school, we not only learned how to say the words and what the words meant, but what the thoughts, inference, meaning, and context was in the words when they were put together to form sentences and paragraphs. Kids today aren’t even taught cursive writing, much less reading comprehension.
I agree, the schools need to get back to all kind of basics, not just the Constitution and founding of our Nation. (Our Republic)
September 17 – 23 is Constitution Week. In 1955, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned Congress with a resolution; this week of observance for the foundation of the American form of government was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on August 2, 1956. George W. Bush officially declared the inception of Constitution Week in 2002. The commitment of the NSDAR is to encourage study and educate the public about the Constitution, which was adopted by the American Congress of the Confederation on September 17, 1787.
First off, in opposition to Ms. Leigh’s statement that “…the Constitution is the document that gave us freedom: freedom and our rights are natural or God given. The Constitution was to guarantee those rights, thus codifying liberty.
To oppose Dr. Cole’s, “The transmission of…knowledge is vital for the survival of our democracy:” the U.S. was founded as a limited Federated Republic, not a democracy.
Yes, we need to impart knowledge of our founding and teach the factors making of us a great and prosperous people with liberty never before experienced anywhere, and likely as we seemingly perish, never to be seen again.
Well Ivan, aside from the various mis-statements and errors in the article, which seems to be somewhat of a pattern from this article’s author over the years, it doesn’t seem there is much interest in the U.S. Constitution anymore from most current AMAC members. Kind of says something doesn’t it? I mean here it is after 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and there is a grand total of four comments. Meanwhile if you look at the worthless puff piece on Hillary’s latest book, written solely to maintain some level of media attention to a now completely irrelevant individual who got away with numerous crimes and to generate a few bucks for her, there are 30 comments.
I would think it would be kind of hard to engender an interest, respect and support in todays’ young people for the values outlined in the Constitution (and the Bill of Rights as well for that matter), when there is such a lack of apparent interest from the parents and grandparents of those young people. Isn’t apathy and apparent indifference to maintaining fidelity to the bedrock principals of our nation a great way to undermine a society from within? More bread and circuses for the masses, while the country rots from within! Anyway, I know you and few others who are still members here actually get it and understand the larger picture and have your priorities properly aligned. Unfortunately, most don’t. Which explains how and why we have ended up were we are today as a country.
Yes, and I totally agree with you on the abject apathy of members and others and the effect on our young.
What I really expected was that someone would jump on me for leaving out Dr. Bradburn’s statement about Democratic stewardship. Boy, imagine the surprise when so few even bothered to respond at all.
As far as membership goes, mine will not expire for a couple of more years, not that it matters. The cost was peanuts. However, it’s noticeable that many have left the comments activity; to many to excuse by death or dependant infirmity.
Feeding the public Pap has long been a method incorporating bread and circuses, so no surprise that Pap is often in our diet. Hard to swallow sometimes and not at all nurishing, expected nontheless. It’s nice that a few along with the likes of you still provide a little meat along the way. It’s been interesting.
Unless, of course, it has to do with trying to take away some conservative’s freedom of speech or take away someone’s legally owned guns.
Yes! It is so important to know our history and how our government is structured to protect our natural-born freedom! We must pass this knowledge on to the next generations and keep those in our own generation informed. I am doing my small part by researching statues in National Statuary Hall in the US Capitol and sharing what I discover in my blog series “Statues: The People They Salute”.
That sounds like a great project Diana. Hopefully none of those statues will be earmarked for removal or destruction by the politically self-righteous and ignorant anarchists masquerading as so-called anti-fascists these days. It seems revisionist history or the complete scrubbing of actual history itself is a cause celeb that the mainstream media has completely bought into these days. Intolerance and stupidity are very dangerous traits for a society to embrace, if it is to endure, grow and prosper.
By the way, what are your thought on the recent decision by the Democrat politicians of College Park, Maryland to grant voting right to illegal aliens residing in their community? I would consider that the opening salvo for other Democrat-controlled towns and cities to do the same in their local elections and potentially use that as an issue for the 2020 elections. After all, that is why Democrats are do against any sort of voter ID laws, as it would effectively eliminate non-citizens from voting in elections.