Constitution Week kicks off Sept. 17

Published 1:48 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, Sept. 17, begins the national celebration of Constitution Week.

The celebration never deviates from the 9/17 date each year. On that date in 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed.

Originally called Citizenship Day, the celebration’s name was changed to Constitution Day in 1955 by President Eisenhower.

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The week-long (Sept. 17-23) commemoration of America’s most important document is one of the country’s least-known official observances.

The Constitution still stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties and freedom and to ensure those unalienable rights to every American.

The celebration is sponsored locally by the Red Cedar chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Austin Public Library.

DAR volunteers will be at a public display table in the library Wednesday 2-5 p.m.

The library will be featuring books on American history.

Polly Jelinek will once again be among the DAR volunteers.

“I hope people will come out and learn something about their Constitution,” she said. “It’s a responsibility of citizenship.”

According to Jelinek, a retired Austin Public Schools elementary teacher, the election year is as good an opportunity as any to get reacquainted with the Constitution and the rights it guarantees citizens.

“I really think it’s a good time for a rejuvenation of our interest in the Constitution,” she said. “Because we will be voting this November, it’s a good time to study the Constitution and learn how our voting rights are guaranteed.”

The tradition of celebrating Constitution Day started many years ago by the DAR.

The organization has served America for 118 years as its foremost cheerleader.

In 1928, the daughters began work on a building as a memorial to the Constitution. John Russell Pope, architect of the Jefferson Memorial, was commissioned to design the performing arts center, known as “DAR Constitution Hall.”

Today, the performing arts center is the only building erected in tribute to the U.S. Constitution.

Known as the largest women’s patriotic organization in the world, DAR has moe than 165,000 members with approximately 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and 11 foreign countries.

The DAR has long promoted patriotism through commemorative celebrations, memorials, scholarships and activities for children as well as programs for new immigrants.

According to Jelinek, observing Constitution Day in a Presidential election year is an excellent opportunity for researchers and all citizens.

One example she offered was the process of amendments to the Constitution. In a year, when America faces a historic Presidential election with the prospect of an African-American being elected from the Democrat Party’s ticket or a female Vice President from the Republican Party ticket, Jelinek said, “Learning how women were guaranteed the right to vote by an amendment to the Constitution will be a special interest.

For more information about DAR and its programs go to