“We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
– Preamble to the Constitution
“We the People” is a powerful sentiment. The phrase indicates that unity as a whole rather than singularity in multiple is the driving force of this document. Even more than this initial understanding, “We the People” illustrates a clear picture of the reasoning or, rather, the “who” behind the American Revolution and the establishment of the United States of America: the people.
The Constitution was written on September 17, 1787. At approximately 226 years of age, it is the world’s longest surviving written charter of government. While the age and significance of this document garner attention, there are events since its drafting that have happened and are occurring that directly involve the Constitution. It is for this reason that Constitution Day is celebrated.
In 1956, Congress established Constitution Week, beginning each year on September 17th, as an act to encourage all Americans to learn more about this historical document. In 2004, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia included key provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2005 designating September 17th of each year as Constitution Day and requiring that public schools and government offices provide educational programs to promote a better understanding of the Constitution.
To bring awareness to the Constitution, and by extension the many departments and divisions of the federal government, the E.H. Little Library extends an invitation to the student and faculty body of Davidson College to visit the Federal Depository Collection. As a selective depository since 1893, the collection includes more than 200,000 print and microform publications from divisions such as the Department of Agriculture, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The collection is open to the public and the library asks that persons unaffiliated with the college to please register at the Information Desk and observe the guest user policy. Lastly, in another nod to Constitution Day, the library has two displays on exhibit: a physical exhibition in the lobby and a digital presentation on the screen located on the Information Literacy Learning Center, better known as the 4 Winds display.
For this year’s Constitution Day, while we look back on the events that created the nation as it stands today, perhaps we may also look into contemporary events and ask ourselves, “How does the Constitution affect us, knowing what we know and being aware of our past and present, how will we utilize this knowledge?”