Constitution and Citizenship Day

09-14-2007

On September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and later ratified by conventions in each state, changing the course of history forever. In fact, many claim that those four pages represent the greatest expression of statesmanship and compromise ever written.

Since 2005, academic institutions across the country have offered educational programming to commemorate that singular accomplishment.

The U.S. Constitution is the longest-lived written constitution in world history. It explicitly was written to secure the liberties of the people by defining specific limits on the power of the national government and the states over the people, and it is unique in that the rights protected in and enshrined by it protect everyone in this country, regardless of their countries of origin.

It can be difficult to comprehend, particularly when traveling abroad, the rights we consider innate and inviolable do not exist for citizens of many other countries, nor do our rights as U.S. citizens travel with us when we leave our country. In the United States, we not only share those freedoms but we also shoulder an essential responsibility with our fellow citizens for maintaining and protecting them.

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, sponsor of the provision designating September 17th “Constitution and Citizenship Day” noted, “One will not protect what one does not value. And one cannot value what one does not understand,” when explaining why it was important to set aside time every year for students to study this important document.

I encourage you to take some time on Monday, or during the coming week, to take another look at the Constitution and think about what it means to you and to our nation. I also encourage you to participate in some of the activities happening on campus to recognize this historic day.

Professor Matthew Fletcher will give a lecture on “Rule of Law and Constitutional Aspects of Indian Law” at noon in Room 472 of the Law College and, in cooperation with the Lansing Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s “Ring That Bell!” program, the Beaumont Tower carillon will ring at 4 p.m. to commemorate the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

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