CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving U.S. senator until his death earlier this year, will be remembered on Constitution Day for his staunch support of a document that defines and outlines the basic laws and rights of American citizens.
Byrd inserted a provision into a massive spending bill that Congress passed in 2004 requiring every school and college that receives federal money to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the day it was adopted in 1787. Throughout his life, the West Virginia Democrat kept a copy of the Constitution in his pocket.
In discussing the Constitution, Byrd said, “Our Constitution’s Framers were willing to risk everything they owned, even their own lives, to give us the great treasure that is our nation and our form of government. Each of us has an obligation to hand that treasure on to future generations intact and strong and secure.”
In West Virginia, the Constitution will be celebrated at the Robert c. Byrd Federal Building in Charleston in the ceremonial courtroom. Schools across West Virginia also will celebrate Constitution Day.
“Most students know that July 4 is our nation's birthday but few Americans know that September 17 is the birthday of our government,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “September 17 is a day for all West Virginians, whether citizens by birth or by naturalization, to pause to reflect on the document that is responsible for our success as a free people.”
Schools are celebrating Constitution Day in many ways. Byrd encouraged educators to use their creativity to teach the lessons of the Constitution. Below are a list of online resources available online to assist educators with lesson plans, primary source documents, biographies, role-play scenarios and other activities too numerous to mention.
For more information, contact Joey Wiseman, West Virginia’s social studies coordinator, at 304-558-5325, or Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.
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