Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal observance that recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.
The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as “Citizenship Day”. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.This holiday is not observed by granting time off work for federal employees.
Universities and colleges nationwide have created “U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Weeks” in order to meet the requirements of the law. For example, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has created a celebration week that includes “Constitution Trivia Contests”, distribution of free copies of the U.S. Constitution, a campus & community fair (in which volunteer and community groups can share information with students), a web page with facts and links related to the Constitution and history of the United States. MSOE has also distributed thousands of free “Presidential quote” t-shirts to all students on campus.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the U.S. Constitution. For the past 225 years, the Constitution has served as the supreme law of the land. The Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights and other amendments, define our government and guarantee our rights. Each year, on September 17, Americans celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. In addition, September 17-23 is also recognized as Constitution Week. During this time, USCIS encourages Americans to reflect on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and what it means to be a U.S. citizen.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has educational materials to help you learn about the United States and prepare for the naturalization process. Here are several products that talk about Labor Day:
- Practice Tests for the Naturalization Interview
Three online practice tests allow you to review the vocabulary that you might hear during the naturalization interview or read on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- USCIS Naturalization Interview and Test Video
This 16-minute video explains the naturalization process and test. It also follows two applicants as they interact with USCIS officers during a naturalization interview.
- 100 Civics Questions and Answers with MP3 Audio
This is the official list of civics questions and answers on the naturalization test in MP3 audio format.
- Naturalization Self Tests
This online practice test allows you to test your knowledge of U.S history and government.
- Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship
This web resource provides online videos and activities on the 100 civics questions from the naturalization test and highlights museum objects from the Smithsonian Institution. Visit the “Writing the Constitution”, “Voting”, “Rights”, and “Responsibilities” themes for information on the Constitution and citizenship.
- Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lessons for the Naturalization Test
This study booklet will help you prepare for the civics and English portions of the naturalization interview. It contains the 100 civics questions on the naturalization test with background information and vocabulary from the English portions of the naturalization test.
- A Promise of Freedom: An Introduction to U.S. History and Civics for Immigrants
This 12-minute film focuses on the history and founding of our nation and the important rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.
- Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities
This page describes the rights and responsibilities that are important to U.S. citizens.
- Timeline of US Immigration Policy
A Nation of Immigrants: Welcoming New Americans to the United States
Communities across the country came together this week to celebrate Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week. The President celebrated the historical influence of immigrants of all backgrounds in his 2013 Proclamation for Constitution Day, Citizenship Day and Constitution Week:
“We are a proud Nation of immigrants, home to a long line of aspiring citizens who contributed to their communities, founded businesses, or sacrificed their livelihoods so they could pass a brighter future on to their children. Each year on Citizenship Day, we welcome the newest members of the American family as they pledge allegiance to our Constitution and join us in writing the next chapter of our national story.”
Last week, I had the honor of joining Mayor Bill Euille in welcoming twenty-five new Americans from fourteen countries during a naturalization ceremony at Alexandria City Hall. Each participant in the ceremony is a testament to the promise of the American dream that says no matter who you are, where you came from, what your last name is, or what you believe, if you come to America and work hard then you can make it if you try.
I witnessed proof of that dream in Alexandria, a city that just like every other city in America was made great by the immigrants that built businesses, schools and homes and struggled for a better life.
I also saw proof of that limitless possibility looking back at me from the front row in the face of Zofia Dubicka. Zofia came to the United States from Germany at age 3, but only discovered that she was not a U.S. citizen this year, 64 years later. Her family left Poland at the end of World War II and her parents became naturalized citizens when she was a teenager, but they never filed for Zofia’s citizenship. Becoming a citizen of the United States, she said, was “to know how my father felt when he experienced becoming a citizen; to be proud, as always, to have been able to live here.” You can read more about Zofia’s story here.
What this ceremony reminded me is that we are the greatest nation in the history of the world because we are a nation of immigrants. The story of our wealth and our prosperity is the story of those immigrants who came to our shores and made us stronger, by creating and striving and doing their jobs better than anyone else in the world.
I look forward to seeing what each of our newest citizens writes into the next chapter of the great American story.
David Agnew is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affair
Racial makeup of the U.S. population
- Native Americans and Alaska Natives
- Hispanic and Latino Americans
- Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders
- Caucasian Immigrantion to the United States
- African Immigrantion to the United States
- Asian Immigrantion to the United States
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)