On September 17th, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention gathered to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution served as the foundation for the governing of our nation and a model for other democratic governments in the world, and still does to this day. To commemorate this historic event, in 2004 Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17th a day of national observance, thereby creating Constitution Day. However, the intent of this holiday is not only to remind us of the inception of the U.S. government as we know it, but also to remind us of our rights and freedoms as American citizens. 1
Sadly, it is amazing how little many Americans know about arguably the most important political document in existence. Did you know that in 1998, a survey found that more American teenagers could name the Three Stooges than the three branches of our nation’s government? 2 Granted, teenagers (and Americans in general) are a lot less likely to spend time reading the Constitution than watching television, but this survey revealed that many of us are overlooking some of the most fundamental and important aspects of our government.
Thankfully, we don’t actually have to read the Constitution word for word to understand it. There are many resources available to the public that simplify this document, and even make it a little entertaining:
- Constitutionfacts.com features a Constitution IQ test and several other fun activities, such as interactive quizzes that determine which founding father you are most like and which founding father you would vote for.
- Visit the National Constitution Center website for education resources catered to specific grades and topics, as well as copies of official founding documents. On this website you can also find Constitution Hall Pass, a free webcast series; an Interactive Constitution; and even games like “Headed to the White House”, where you get to run your own campaign for president!
- Short on time? Check out the SparkNotes guide on the Constitution, complete with a general overview, summary and analysis, and study tools.
Take this Constitution Day to catch up on your knowledge of the Constitution and educate others as well. The activities listed above will be great for children and adults alike, and can be a nice way to get the whole family together. Lastly, remember to spread cheer and patriotism as we celebrate the creation of this historic document!
About: What is constitution day? Retrieved from http://constitutioncenter.org/constitution-day/about-constitution-day
More teens can name three stooges than can name three branches of government. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://constitutioncenter.org/media/files/stooges.pdf
About: What is constitution day?. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://constitutioncenter.org/constitution-day/about-constitution-day
About the signers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/about-the-signers/