FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 14, 2009
Constitution Day honors the document that defines who we are
Constitutional issues or protections are in the news virtually every day, though not necessarily identified that way. See if you can spot coverage that involves something guaranteed by the Constitution.
How does the newspaper itself reflect the Constitution? What pages in particular uphold the founders' vision most clearly?
Are Constitution Day events or resources presented this week as part of education news or local coverage?
This Thursday brings a federal holiday as all-American as any we celebrate, though it has no fireworks, parades or school closings. Still, Constitution Day is definitely an occasion worth marking every Sept. 17 -- the day 39 delegates in Philadelphia signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Much more recently, Congress voted in 2004 to establish an official holiday and to require educational programs that day in public schools on the history of the Constitution.
Our Constitution really is something notable -- the world's longest surviving written charter of government. Its first three words -- "We the People" -- affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.
At the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where the original Constitution is on public view, four Yale Law School scholars on Thursday will discuss constitutional issues of the future -- such as the challenge of new technologies, presidential power, voting access, economic rights and freedom of speech. Speeches, discussions and historic presentations also are taxing place on college and university campuses.
Enduring framework: The Constitution created essential elements of our democracy, particularly the separation of powers among three branches of government -- the executive, legislative and judiciary.
After Sept. 17, 1787: The signed Constitution was sent to the states for ratification. It took effect on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document.
Civic leader says: "It's important that we instill habits of good citizenship at an early age. Unfortunately, a lot of young people have forgotten, and we want to educate and remind them of their patriotism and their rights. We're here to promote patriotism, education and historic preservation." -- Anna Lee, Daughters of the American Revolution chapter president in Tyler, Texas.
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