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Groene: Our duty to honor the Constitution

Groene: Our duty to honor the Constitution

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Today is Constitution Day. On Aug. 29, 1956, President Eisenhower signed the below Proclamation 3151 — creating the observance of Constitution Week.

“Whereas on September 17, 1787, after four months of debate, highlighted by sharp differences of view and by wise compromises, the outstanding leaders of our Republic, who were meeting in convention at Philadelphia, signed the Constitution of the United States of America; and

“Whereas the story of the framing, signing, and adoption of that epochal document constitutes one of the most significant chapters in the history of our country; and

“Whereas it is fitting that every American should reflect upon the vision and fortitude of our forebears in creating a charter designed “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” for themselves and for the fortunate millions who were to follow them as citizens of this Nation; and

“Whereas the Congress, by a joint resolution approved August 2, 1956, has requested the President to set aside the week beginning September 17 of each year as Constitution Week, a time for the contemplation and commemoration of the historic acts which resulted in the formation of our Constitution:

“Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the period beginning September 17 and ending September 23, 1956, as Constitution Week; and I urge the people of the United States to observe that week with appropriate ceremonies and activities in their schools and churches, and in other suitable places. I also urge them at that time to give solemn and grateful thought to that eventful week in September 1787 when our Constitution was signed, delivered to the Continental Congress, and made known to the people of the country, thus laying the foundation for the birth of a new Nation.”

During the 2019 legislative session we passed LB399 to update sections 79-724 and 79-727 of our state statutes concerning the duties of our public and private schools in instruction of American civics; they shall conduct its activities, choose textbooks and arrange its curriculum in such a way that the youth of our state have the opportunity to become competent, responsible, patriotic and civil American citizens in the areas of our nation’s history, government, geography and economic system. Included in LB399 was a dictate that in at least two of the three grades from the fifth grade to the eighth grade, students shall be instructed in a way that they will possess a deep understanding of and respect for both the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Nebraska. Constitution Day was also added as a required day in which appropriate patriotic exercises shall be conducted to celebrate the holiday.

LB399 now requires schools to either give each student the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service prior to the completion of the eighth and 12th grades or they must require students to attend a public meeting or complete a project or paper on a person or event on one the holidays that observance is required. As parents if you want to qualify the civics education that your child is receiving, just have them complete the naturalization test; the results of their civics education will become immediately evident.

It has been 223 years since 39 of the original 55 delegates, many of them veterans of the Revolutionary War, gathered to sign the Constitution and 219 years since an insistent James Madison pushed Congress and the states to add 10 amendments defining the rights of free individuals to the Constitution. It is in that vein of insistence and hard work that the “Daughters of the American Revolution” organization pushed for the study and teaching of the Constitution and drove Congress to create the observance of Constitution Week in 1955.

Today at 3 p.m. “Bells Across America” will be ringing from churches and public buildings as we all pause and consider, not mine or your constitutional rights, but the blessings given us through the Constitution of the United States of America, protecting all of our God given rights.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

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