America’s liberties, as delineated in the country’s major founding document, are being celebrated today, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 for U.S. Constitution Day.
While the truths in the constitution are held to be self-evident, students across the District are learning first-hand through lessons, games, and even a personal visit to an oath-of-citizenship ceremony in Salt Lake City what it means to take upon the mantle of being an American citizen.
At Midvale Middle, students compared the words of the original constitution to one that was ratified later. Sandy Elementary Sharks talked about the reason for the day on their student-produced morning news show. Constitution-related trivia also was played at the outset of every period today at Eastmont Middle, and if any Patriot can recite the Preamble to any administrator by Thursday, they can be rewarded with the opportunity to obtain items from the school store.
But perhaps the most touching event was witnessed by Alta High social-studies and music students.
Alta High students were invited to participate in Monday’s naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court. The Salt Lake event is held annually to mark the Sept. 18, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution, and is an observance that began in 1940 as “I Am an American Day.”
At the touching ceremony, the Hawks’ Madrigals performed patriotic songs, and two seniors, Ricky Wooden and Shannon van Uitert, were chosen to read personal essays about the constitution.
“Mainly,” Wooden said of the U.S. Constitution, “it’s the one thing that binds us all together.” Religion doesn’t do that, sports don’t do that “but the constitution does,” he said.
Wooden said it took him about an hour to collect his thoughts and write the essay, which focused on how the document was drafted and how ultimately “it wants us to express our voices.”
The constitution, he said, “certainly gives us responsibilities …So we can protect it, and it can protect us.”
van Uitert says she hopes the new citizens took her words to heart: “I hope it means as much to them as it means to me.” She and her peers, as well as others in the audience, heard touching American-dream stories from new U.S. citizens hailing from Iraq, Mexico, Samoa, Tonga, Brazil, Australia, Africa, Dominican Republic, India, Burma, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
van Uitert said she wanted to speak directly to the new citizens about how the “rights and privileges” given in the constitution aid citizens in their pursuits of happiness.
The service in Salt Lake City is one of more than 260 naturalization ceremonies scheduled to be held this week in the United States. This year, America will welcome approximately 45,000 new citizens at the ceremonies.