This year Constitution Day, Wednesday, Sept. 17, and the 225th anniversary of the drafting of the Bill of Rights will be celebrated by an unusual variety of events spanning the nation, including naturalization ceremonies at iconic sites, students taking the “Preamble Challenge,” a panel in Washington examining the role of civics in American life, and the start-up of an online resource for civics education.
The events are part of a daylong program launching the Civics Renewal Network, a unique collaboration among 26 groups, including the National Archives, the U.S. Courts, the National Constitution Center, the Library of Congress, the Annenberg Public Policy Center, the Newseum, and others dedicated to elevating the importance of civics education.
“At a time when our country is divided by political and social issues, this day reminds us of the principles and ideas that bind us,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, home of the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics. “And it reinforces the need for civics education, in the belief that it is essential to create generations of informed, involved, and responsible citizens.”
In a first for the federal judiciary, 24 naturalization ceremonies will be held from Maine to Alaska on Sept. 17 and 18.
“Naturalization ceremonies are a living testament to both Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, as they represent the active efforts of immigrants to become educated about our governmental system, and having been so educated, to pledge allegiance to our country’s laws, said Robert A. Katzmann, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “These ceremonies remind us of our collective responsibility, as citizens, to promote civic education, so that our Constitution and government remain vital for generations to come.”
Constitution Day, Sept. 17:
New York City – Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse:
- 8 a.m. – Naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens in the historic courthouse where generations of immigrants, including George Balanchine, Alistair Cooke, W.H. Auden, I.M. Pei and Mikhail Baryshnikov, took the Oath of Allegiance. Presided over by Robert A. Katzmann, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the event will include the New York City Housing Authority Youth Chorus and students from the Harlem Educational Activities Fund reciting the Preamble. Address: 40 Foley Square, New York, N.Y. 10007. Court contact: Circuit Executive Karen Milton, 212-857-8555, Karen_Milton@ca2.uscourts.gov.
Philadelphia – National Constitution Center:
- 8:30 a.m. – Kickoff of the “Preamble Challenge,” in which students recite the 52-word Preamble to the Constitution, with a group recitation on the front lawn, near Independence Hall. A live stream can be seen at civicsrenewalnetwork.org. Tweet and Instagram your own group taking the “Preamble Challenge”: #ConstitutionDay2014.
- 10:30 a.m. – Naturalization ceremony in Kirby Auditorium, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge John R. Padova with 54 applicants from 28 countries. National Constitution Center contact: Lauren Saul, 215-409-6895, firstname.lastname@example.org.