Constitution Day as well as Citizenship Day is observed every year on September 17th. September 17 to 23 is officially designated Constitution Week. It is a period of celebration, and appreciation, and allows citizens to learn more about their rights and responsibilities.
It is a federal observance but not a public holiday. Hence businesses stay open as usual. If Constitution Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, schools, agencies, and other institutions observe it on the next weekday.
Significance of Constitution Day
Constitution Day commemorates the formation of the United States Constitution which was signed by 39 out of 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17th, 1787. This was four years after America gained its independence from the Britishers.
The day holds great significance as it was one of the most critical events that concluded the heated debates and compromises. As a result, a strong central government with three separate branches and the protection of individual rights were established.
The signing of the Constitution on this day formed a concrete basis for the rule of law, the balance of power, and enduring principles that built the United States.
The United States Constitution is the oldest in the world and is considered to be one of America's most important documents. It outlines the framework of the government whose aim is to protect the right and freedom of the people it serves and ensure that future generations also benefit from this. The historic event occurred in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia where the Declaration Of Independence was also drafted previously.
History of Constitution Day
In 1911, Iowa became the first state to observe September 17th and it was celebrated in public schools. The hereditary society, The Sons of the Revolution, was impressed with the idea so they formed a committee to promote the celebration in 1917.
Fast forwarding to 1939, it was William Randolph Hearst, a well-known newspaper publisher, who propagated the idea of allocating a day to celebrate the citizenship of the newly formed country. His labor was fruitful as Congress established 'I Am an American Day' to be celebrated on the third Sunday of May.
On February 29, then-President Harry Truman renamed 'I Am an American Day' to Citizenship Day. Another significant event happened this year.
In Louisville, Ohio, one zealous citizen, Olga T Weber, petitioned for the day to be recognized in honor of the Constitution. The Mayor of Ohio granted her desire, proclaiming September 17, 1952, the first Constitution Day for Louisville.
However, Weber did not stop there and petitioned for it to be recognized statewide, and then, nationwide. She succeeded, and in 1953, President Eisenhower signed it into law. This is how Citizenship Day started being observed on September 17.
Louise Leigh, a woman from California, studied a course on the Constitution, gained a greater appreciation for it, and was motivated to do something to commemorate it. In 1997, she created Constitution Day, Inc., a non-profit organization. She received the backing of Senator Robert Byrd, who wanted all citizens to know more about the day and their rights.
As “Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.”
Because of his lobbying, the “Constitution Day” amendment was added to the Omnibus Spending Bill and signed by President Bush in December of 2004. September 17, 2005, was the first federally-recognized Constitution Day in the country.
The Link Between Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
There is an important link between Constitution Day and Citizenship Day as both honor important aspects of your American identity and civic participation.
While Constitution Day precisely commemorates the formation and signing of the US Constitution, Citizenship Day honors individuals who became citizens through coming of age or habitually. Citizenship Day also helps us remember our rights and duties as the citizens of United States while celebrating the contribution of people embracing American citizenship. Both of these days highlight the connection between the founding rules of the Constitution and the diverse population of citizens who are holding democracy together.
Citizenship Day was previously called "I Am an American Day" because it was inspired by the song "I Am an American" written for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The song's influence led Arthur Pine, the head of a public relations firm, to propose a day dedicated to celebrating US citizenship. He promoted the song and the day via radio and a local newspaper. It was so successful that another newspaper advertised it nationwide.
How Constitution Day Is Celebrated
- Each year, the President of the United States may proclaim the day and decree that flags are displayed on all federal and other buildings.
- Individuals can also display their patriotism by proudly displaying flags in their homes and cars, expressing their devotion to the values and ideals enshrined in the Constitution. These displays of national pride contribute to the overall spirit of Constitution Day.
- Public schools that receive Federal funds are required by law to observe the day and provide educational programs for their students to teach them about the Constitution. This may include readings from the Constitution, discussions with judges and national heroes, and other projects. Federal agencies have to provide educational materials for each of their employees as well.
- Constitution Day offers multiple ways to celebrate and engage in commemoration. Community activities like cleanliness drives are organized, where citizens come together to beautify their local areas and demonstrate their commitment to upholding the Constitution.
- Festivals and other celebrations can provide a platform for people to gather, engage in discussions, and deepen their understanding of the Constitution's significance.
By engaging in these various forms of celebration, Constitution Day encourages a sense of civic pride, unity, and appreciation for the fundamental principles that shape the United States. It serves as a reminder of the enduring significance of the Constitution and its impact on the lives of individuals and the nation as a whole.
You might like to read about Independence Day to know about the history which led to the independence of America from British rule.
Constitution Day - Next years
Wednesday, 17 September 2025
Thursday, 17 September 2026
Friday, 17 September 2027