On Constitution Day, a reminder that the supreme law of the land requires citizens’ participation in order to remain strong

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson
The Atlantic
Sept. 17, 2013

Simply put, every day is supposed to be Constitution Day.
Simply put, every day is supposed to be Constitution Day.

According to federal law, September 17th is Constitution Day – a day that all federally financed educational and governmental institutions must teach about the Constitution.

When is the last time “We the People” read the Constitution—all 4400 words? How much do we “citizens” know about its original history, the need for a Bill of Rights, or the impact of the Fourteenth Amendment? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the document’s influence on our daily lives? If you are like most people, the answers are likely disheartening, as is evidenced by embarrassing test results about civic knowledge and a general ignorance that borders on constitutional illiteracy.

This constitutional illiteracy, and the apathy it seems to indicate, is odd, because the United States Constitution defines our national identity. In fact, this document’s pride of place in our cultural heritage is part of what makes the country unique: Constitutional values, and not race, ethnicity, or religion bind us together as a nation. We are “Americans” because of a shared belief system, and that belief system begins with those first, inspiring words etched in the Constitution.

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