Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, recognizing that all who are born in the United States or have been naturalized are United States citizens. A bold experiment in democracy, the Constitution has outlined the structure of our federal government for over 200 years.
The Constitution has three main functions:
- It creates a national government consisting of a legislative, an executive, and a judicial branch, along with a system of checks and balances that divide power equally.
- It divides power between the federal government and the states.
- It protects various individual liberties of American citizens.
We celebrate Constitution Day to remind ourselves that this document, along with the Bill of Rights, is the legal means by which “We the People” ensure that our government protects our rights.
We live in tumultuous times in America. It can be easy to feel like no one represents us and everyone is divided. And yes, the Constitution, as originally written, left a lot of people out. The continuing fight for equality for Black people, women, the LGBTQ community and other groups has made progress, but there is still much to be resolved. One thing remains unchanged: the need for a government that protects our individual rights and does so without abusing its powers.
The fight for rights is the backbone of American history.
The fact that the United States has the oldest living constitution in the world speaks to the flexibility and ability to serve in a world today that is totally different than the one it was written in. How do we ensure that this document, written by and for white, male property owners, provides protection to our diverse, growing, and divided population? The Constitution was enacted by the people for the benefit of the people. It is up to the people to preserve, protect, and defend it.
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