Free admission to the museum on September 17
Special appearances by Congressman John Lewis, Gerda Weissmann Klein, and civic activistMary Beth Tinker
PHILADELPHIA, — The U.S. Constitution—signed onSeptember 17, 1787—remains ever-present in our national dialogue, with constitutional issues from privacy to presidential power confronting the country daily. As the Museum of We the People, America’s Town Hall, and a leading center for civic education, the National Constitution Center serves as the national headquarters for Constitution Day on September 17, 2013 , honoring the Constitution’s 226th anniversary and its enduring significance. The celebration features a wide range of FREE educationalfestivities and timely constitutional conversations with leading scholars and experts. Last year, over 5,000 students, teachers, and other guests visited the museum on Constitution Day.
“The Constitution continues to be at the heart of our nation’s most contentious issues,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen. “As citizens, one of our highest privileges is the opportunity to participate in a conversation about what the Constitution means. As America’s town hall, the National Constitution Center is honored to host these constitutional conversations and on Constitution Day, we are thrilled to celebrate the privileges of citizenship.”
Celebrate at the Museum of We the People
On Tuesday, September 17, students, teachers, and other museum visitors can broaden their knowledge of America’s founding document and engage in timely town hall discussions about constitutional issues. This year, special Constitution Day guests include Congressman John Lewis ofGeorgia, civic activist Mary Beth Tinker , and humanitarian Gerda Weissmann Klein , who will each participate in several events throughout the day.
To kick off the Constitution Day festivities, Congressman John Lewis will lead students in a rousingreading of the Preamble to the Constitution at 8:30 a.m. on the museum’s front lawn. Immediately following the reading, the museum’s brand-new flagpole will be dedicated during a special flag-raising ceremony. The program will be attended by representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution, who generously supported the installation of the flagpole. Funding for installation of the flagpole was made possible through the sponsorship of Pennsylvania State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania Society Sons of the American Revolution, and National Society Sons of the American Revolution.
At 10 a.m. , visitors can join in a special ceremony honoring Hiram Rhodes Revels —the first African-American United States senator—who is the latest addition to the popular American National Treeexhibit. Part of the museum’s main exhibition, the American National Tree features interactive touch-screens which tell the stories of 100 Americans who have shaped our constitutional history. The addition of Revels was determined by the winning essay of the M.R. Robinson National Constitution Center American National Tree Contest. The National Constitution Center, in collaboration with Scholastic, Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, selected high school junior Sam Duffy from the Collegiate School in New York, New York as the 2013 winner. Duffy will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and his essay on Revels will be permanently added to the American National Tree exhibit. He and his family will attend the induction ceremony, along with Scott Larner, Senior Manager, Programs, at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
At 10:30 a.m. , a public Naturalization Ceremony will take place in the museum’s F.M. Kirby Auditorium, where 50 immigrants from across the globe will take the Oath of Allegiance to officially become citizens of the United States. This powerful ceremony will feature a keynote address by Gerda Weissmann Klein , founder of Citizenship Counts, Holocaust survivor, 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and proud naturalized citizen. Presiding over the Naturalization Ceremony will be the Honorable John R. Padova.
Guests can also enjoy a slice of cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to ring in the 226th anniversary of the Constitution’s signing during a patriotic Anniversary Celebration at 12 p.m. on the museum’s Grand Hall Overlook. The celebration includes a special appearance by President George Washington and live music.
At 12:30 p.m.in the museum’s F.M. Kirby Auditorium, Congressman John Lewis will discuss his new book March: Book One —the first in a graphic novel trilogy that shares the congressman’s remarkable story with new generations. A keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in 1963, and a Medal of Freedom recipient from President Obama, Congressman Lewis also will explore today’s constitutional questions related to equal rights. Attendees will receive a FREE copy of March: Book One. A book signing will follow the program.
At 1:30 p.m. on the museum’s Grand Hall Overlook, civic activist and 1960s free speech icon Mary Beth Tinker will share her story from the Supreme Court’s memorable “armband case,” as well as her journey to boost free speech awareness and civic education. Throughout the day, visitors can climb aboard the “Tinker Tour” bus, which will be parked outside the museum on Arch Street. The Constitution Center is the very first stop of the Tinker Tour, which will travel the country throughout the 2013-14 school year.
At 2:30 p.m., National Constitution Center Visiting Scholar and former Congressman Mickey Edwards ,University of Pennsylvania Professor and Director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law ClaireFinkelstein, and the museum’s President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen will engage in a public conversation on drones, their usage, and their effects on privacy, liberty, and safety in the museum’s F.M. Kirby Auditorium. This program is presented in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Throughout the day, the museum will be brimming with hands-on activities and craft workshops in the Grand Hall Lobby. Visitors can stop by the old-fashioned print shop, complete with a replica printing press from the 1700s, to print a copy of the Preamble in the same way Claypool and Dunlap did when they printed the Constitution. They also can join in calligraphy demonstrations and learn about the Copperplate technique used to pen the official, handwritten Constitution. Then, using their newly acquired calligraphy skills, visitors can sign a giant version of the U.S. Constitution, adding their signatures alongside those of our Founding Fathers.
In addition, during special interactive programs, guests can put their knowledge of the Constitution to the test at a fast-paced, Bill of Rights-themed game show; the high-energy Separation of Powers show, which teaches students about the three branches of government; and the engaging Pass the Citizenship Test show, which spotlights the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.
The Constitution Center will host several partner organizations to help celebrate Constitution Day, including Arcadia University , Pennsylvania State Society Daughters of the American Revolution,National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania Society Sons of the American Revolution, and National Society Sons of the American Revolution, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, James Madison’s Montpelier, and Progressive Business Publications.
To conclude the day’s events, the Constitution Center and Philadelphia magazine will co-present the free program DOMA and PA: Legal Showdown at 5:30 p.m. in the F.M. Kirby Auditorium. Philadelphiamagazine editor Tom McGrath will moderate a timely conversation about the state of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, on the heels of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s highly publicized announcement that she would not defend the state’s law banning gay marriage. Confirmed program participants include Pennsylvania State Representative Brian K. Sims .
Celebrate in the Classroom
Students across the country can join in the celebration and meet their Constitution Day education requirement by tuning in to the National Constitution Center’s popular FREE webcast series, Constitution Hall Pass , available starting September 9, 2013, at constitutioncenter.org/constitutionday. The brand-new episode, “Constitution Day 2013: The Legislative Branch,” provides a behind-the-scenes look at how laws are made in the United States while exploring some famous historic sites that bring the story of the legislative branch to life. Members of the museum’s education staff will be available for an online live chat with students and teachers from September 9 to September 20 , 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT (live chat on weekdays only). This program has been supported by The Hearst Foundation, Inc.
As the nation’s leading Constitution Day resource, the website also includes educational tools and lesson plans, online versions of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization test, video clips of Constitution Day events at the Constitution Center, previous Constitution Hall Pass episodes, and the “Which Founder Are You?” quiz, which allows users to compare their personality traits with those of the men who wrote the Constitution.
Additionally, educators can purchase the Center’s Constitution Day Kit, which includes a 31″ x 55″ laminated copy of the Constitution; 35 folding pocket Constitutions; a Constitution Hall Pass DVD; the “To Sign or Not To Sign” lesson plan (differentiated for elementary, middle, and high school grade levels); and a dry erase marker for signing the Constitution. The kit costs $35.
A handy interactive Constitution App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch also is available for download by visiting iTunes.