Celebrating who we are

Published 9:59 am Thursday, September 17, 2009

You won’t see the date on many calendars. It doesn’t get near the attention of other holidays or days of recognition. But, for Americans, today may be among the most important of all historical events.

It was on Sept. 17, 1787, that 39 true patriots and visionaries put the finishing touches on the initial document that shapes our government and our nation even today: The U.S. Constitution.

This document and the amendments that followed it are among the most important writings, second only to the Bible, for each of us as U.S. citizens.

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The Constitution took earlier concepts and drafts to create the framework that we call American Democracy and outline the fabric of the greatest country in the world.

The amendments to the document are equally as important and range from those in the First — freedoms of religion, speech, the press, to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances — to the right to a speedy trial, the freedom for blacks and women to vote and other key rules that allow our nation to function.

Originally known as Citizenship Day, the holiday was established in 2004 because of an amendment by West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the law required that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programs about the Constitution in observance of the day.

If even one person walks away from this annual event with a better understanding of the Constitution or American history, then this observance has had a positive impact.

Celebrating the Constitution is truly celebrating who we are as a nation and the foundations on which all our lives are built.