Constitution Day: Classrooms, Communities Celebrate With Re-Enactments, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ and More

Sep 16, 2011 4:09pm

Happy Constitution Day!

Although the actual holiday is Saturday, public schools across the country celebrated the document today that has seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks partly to Tea Party conservatives. Classrooms hosted a range of educational programs on the nation’s founding tract and, for those more interested in recreation, there were celebrations from coast to coast with fireworks, revolutionary war re-enactments, hay rides and more.

The Constitution Day tradition has its roots in a mandate introduced by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., in 2005. Byrd was known to carry a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution close to his heart.

In an elementary school classroom in New Braunfels, Texas, first-grade students watched the “Schoolhouse Rock!” cartoon about the preamble. The U.S. Department of Education uses “Schoolhouse Rock!” for its telephone hold music.

Other teachers fulfilled their Constitution Day requirement by showing a webcast called Constitution Hall Pass in the classroom. The Constitution Center’s website hosted a video with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and classrooms participated in a live chat with Constitution experts while they watched.

Mrs. Rogers’ first-period asked, “Where is the Constitution located today?”

The answer? The National Archives in the District of Columbia.

How well do you know the nation’s founding document? Test your knowledge with our Constitution quiz.

Another class wanted to know James Madison’s height. The Constitution Center experts said that at 5-feet-4-inches, he was the shortest delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the group that crafted the Constitution in 1787.

Washington Post Opinion writer Ruth Marcus took this week as an opportunity to take back the Constitution for the liberals, writing that the conservative claim to the document is “at bottom, an argument against the 20th century — specifically against the notion that the Constitution envisions and empowers a muscular federal government able to ensure that its citizens have clean air, healthy food and safe workplaces.”

If you, too, want to take back the Constitution, you’ll have plenty of opportunities outside the classroom this weekend.

Tea Party Patriots in Redlands, Calif., can look forward to story time with Betsy Ross, pocket Constitutions and a Barbershop Quartet, among other festivities at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

Redlands Tea Party volunteer Phillip Naman called the Constitution “a remarkable document.”

“You’ve got, what, 4,400 words, 11 articles? And it spells out in 16 pages how to run an entire country,” he said.

Naman said he has seen a recent surge of enthusiasm around the Constitution.

“I think we’re seeing this spark because people are concerned by what they’re hearing in the news,” Naman said. “We’re seeing a march in our institutions towards socialism and collectivism as opposed to what the nation was founded on.”

In Montpelier, Vt., James and Dolly Madison (or performers playing them in full regalia) will host hay rides, colonial games and fireworks Saturday.

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum will join Constitution Day celebrations in Boiling Springs and North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Saturday.

Hillsdale College in Michigan hosted a full day of panels and lectures on the Constitution Thursday. The college will release a new video from the session each Monday for the next four weeks.

Nevada City celebrated Constitution Day a week early with Civil War reenactments, a military uniform fashion show and the annual duck race, after which “Ducktators” took a dip in the river.

Want more ways to celebrate? You can color in Thomas Jefferson’s bust, watch “This Week” for Christiane Amanpour’s roundtable discussion on the present-day battle for the Constitution, or just go on Facebook, as Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation argues the growth of social media strengthens our First Amendment rights.

ABC News’ David Besnainou contributed to this report.

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