Nearly 232 years ago today, the founding fathers signed the most influential document in America—the United States Constitution. Every September 17th, we remember the 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention who came together in Philadelphia on this day in 1787 to sign the US Constitution. The signing of this document established America’s national government and fundamental laws, and also guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It also meant that after this day, anyone born in the United States, or naturalized for that matter, have become citizens. The US Constitution has 4,400 words and is the oldest and
“I am an American Day”
It wasn’t until 1939 that William Randolph Hearst first suggested the creation of a holiday to celebrate American citizenship. Hearst was publisher of a daily newspaper in New York City, and had a well-established following, as well as significant political connections. Within a year, Congress designated the third Sunday in May to be “I am an American Day,” which was publicly presented by President Harry Truman. This holiday quickly gained popularity, especially when Hearst’s 16-minute film titled “I Am an American” was featured in numerous American theaters. This holiday quickly swept the nation, gaining many supporters to its cause.
In 1952, Olga T. Weber, a resident of Louisville, Ohio, petitioned the leaders of the municipality to change the date of the holiday to September 17th to correspond with the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. The municipality quickly agreed; Weber continued her mission by bringing her argument to the state, which also quickly approved. In 1953, Olga brought her concept to the US Congress, where both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved her request. Once Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it, the “I am an American Day” holiday became “Citizenship Day” and was moved to September 17th. In her honor, Weber’s hometown of Louisville, Ohio is marked as the first city in America to celebrate Citizenship Day in 1952.
At this point in history, Constitution Day was not an established holiday. It wasn’t until Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. in 1997. Her goal was to encourage recognition of the importance of this day in history and to establish Constitution Day as a national holiday. She got her wish in 2004, with the help of Senator Robert Byrd; the “Constitution Day” amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill was passed.
This year we encourage everyone to honor Constitution Day and Citizenship Day this year on September 17th, and to take the time to reflect on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and what it means to be a US citizen. If you have young children, we encourage you to educate them on this monumental American holiday by following along with these educational activities. As always, please share with us your pictures of your American Flags flying proudly, and be sure to #FlagsfromParadisoIns!