Constitution Day Celebrates Citizenship

Dr. Ric Dias in front of the Declaration of Independence, another important American document. Photo by Bryce Mills.

     On September 17, 2015, Northern State University will celebrate Constitution Day – a day that commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution, 228 years ago, in 1787. Though Constitution Day may not present itself as the most exciting of our country’s observed holidays, its significance should not be overlooked. In a recent interview, Northern’s own Professor of American History, Dr. Ric Dias, explained the holiday’s importance both to America’s individual communities and to our nation as a whole.
     Dias suggested that Constitution Day—also known as Citizenship Day—is an ideal way to raise awareness of the U.S. Constitution’s magnitude, and to celebrate the rights it guarantees to U.S. citizens. The many securities imparted to the American people by the Constitution extend considerably beyond its first ten amendments, which comprise the Bill of Rights. The Constitution’s relevance to America’s present affairs, as well as to both its past and, undoubtedly, to its future, is unquestionable.
     Particularly so on the eve of a presidential campaign season, with a prominent candidate calling for a change to America’s policy of birthright citizenship—a policy specifically enumerated in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. With such a fundamental reversal being discussed at such high levels of government, raising awareness about the Constitution is an essential act of enlightened patriotism.
     Constitution Day is not merely celebrated at Northern State University to secure government funding — as a civic holiday, it provides university departments, groups, and local organizations with an opportunity to accomplish something together as a community.

“I love American History; it was just a natural fit for me.”
NSU Professor of American History, Dr. Ric Dias

     At Northern, Dias assures that recognition of the day allows the history department to reach out to the larger student population. Some even have a seemingly sentimental attachment to the significance of Constitution Day. As coordinator of the holiday events for the past three years, Dias has enjoyed celebrating Constitution Day at Northern. “I love American History; it was just a natural fit for me,” Dias said.
     On Constitution Day, the Exchange Club of Aberdeen—a non-profit organization and premier service club which promotes Americanism, youth, community, and the prevention of child abuse — will be demonstrating the proper way to dispose of the American flag. This event will take place near the sand volleyball court north of Kramer Hall.
     Additionally, the Aberdeen division of the League of Women Voters — an organization that was created as a means to encourage the involvement of women in public and civic affairs — will be on campus registering people to vote.
     The primary location of many of the events and activities for Constitution Day will be the Student Center over the noon hour, but others will range across NSU’s entire campus.
     Aside from the aforementioned demonstrations, students can expect to see special programing on NSU-TV, campus offices adorned with patriotic decorations, information about the Constitution on the NSU website, and potentially a speaker or two on campus. The excitement for the celebration only grows each year. As Dias proudly states, “Every year there is something bigger.”
     Students, faculty, and community members can expect to see multiple copies of the Constitution—both online and in print—as well as a few famous American figures roaming around campus. If you pay attention, you may even catch a glimpse of Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty.

Katie Grote