DAR Celebrates Constitution Week

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“The United States Constitution has proven itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the first Constitution Week in August of that year.

Constitution Week is designed to “reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787 by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian of our liberties, remembering that lost rights may never be regained.”

As part of the regular Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, Mayor Don Downs signed a proclamation in honor of Constitution Week, which runs Sept. 17-23, for the Christiana Tillson chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Constitution Day itself is celebrated each year on Sept. 17, to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Originally celebrated as Citizenship Day, it was renamed Constitution Day in 2004.

The U.S. Constitution is the oldest constitution still in active use in the world today, but it was the second governing document of the United States of America.  The first plan of national government was the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which was drawn up in 1777 and provided only for a loosely-joined group of states with very little powers to the central government.  The Articles of Confederation were replaced by the Constitution, signed in 1787 and adopted in 1789.

At only 4,444 words, it is the oldest and shortest written constitution of any major government in the world today.  

It was hand-penned by Jacob Shallus, a Pennsylvania General Assembly clerk.  Several words use older, alternative spellings, like “chuse,” defence,” “controul” and “labour,” but oddly enough, the most obvious misspelling is “Pensylvania” above the signers from that state.

Not only does the document lay out how the three branches of the federal government work, each providing checks and balances on the others, it is also the cornerstone of freedom and many of its amendments protect the personal rights of every American.

The Constitution protects Americans from abuse of power by the federal government remarkably well, but does so without the use of words and phrases that many Americans consider constitutional.  One will not find the word “democracy” in the U.S. Constitution, nor the phrases “innocent until proven guilty,” “presumption of innocence,” or “jury of my peers,” but those are many of the rights protected by the Fifth Amendment which states that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

The purpose of the  Constitution Week celebration is to emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution, informing people that it is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life, and encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.

In addition to the special recognition, the DAR has erected a structure that is built in tribute, named the DAR Constitution Hall, which opened in 1929 as a performing arts center.

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