September 17 – Constitution Day.

It’s the day each year for Americans to celebrate the greatest document in history. We know that in 1787 delegates gathered in Philadelphia at a Constitutional Convention for the signing of the United States Constitution, the document that established this nation.

Ultimately, in 2004, West Virginia’s Sen. Robert Byrd passed an amendment renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” and a day on which school students would study and understand the meaning and weight of the U.S. Constitution through classroom lessons. They also would prepare and participate in various school programs and assemblies to commemorate the Constitution on September 17.

I have a special memory of one particular Constitution Day. A few years ago, I attended a Naturalization Ceremony, for at least 50 immigrants who had studied hard to become citizens and were about to swear their allegiance to this nation. They came from many parts of the world and each would raise their right hands and promise to uphold the ideals of the United States Constitution and to participate in the life of the United States as good citizens.

The Naturalization ceremony was held on the grounds of the historic Pennsbury Manor, a replica of William Penn’s home. It was a significant setting founded in the quest for freedom and liberty. Included in the ceremony, that day, were then-Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick, a federal judge, friends and proud families. It was an honor to watch the door open to freedom for so many and personally heart warming to see these new Americans joyful and teary-eyed at the thought of becoming what I and so many of us take for granted.

God Bless America!