My column in last Saturday's Times News presented the reasons why September 17th should not be the day we celebrate as "Constitution Day" and how the persistent efforts by Mrs. Olga T. Weber (a resident of Louisville, Ohio), which started in 1952, saw President Eisenhower sign a law in 1955 that made September 17 - 23 "Constitution Week" and ultimately resulted, among other things, in this incorrect date being established as a federal holiday by Congress as "Constitution Day" in 2004.
Sadly, we do not celebrate our State's Constitution. Many Pennsylvanians do not even know that there is a Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, much less that Sept. 28, 1776 was the date on which our first Constitution became law, thus creating the State of Pennsylvania. Very few Pennsylvanians have actually read the 1776 Constitution of Pennsylvania.
It is estimated that over 90 per cent of those in our local, county and state governments have not read the current Pennsylvania Constitution, even though each of them are, directly or indirectly, requited by a constitutional "oath of office" to "support, obey and defend" it. A few more have read the Constitution for the United States of America, but most, based on their actions, still clearly do not understand and follow the federal Constitution either.
How in the world can they lawfully do their government jobs without reading and understanding the fundamental law of our State? To take their "oath of office" in ignorance is, at a minimum, immoral and a very serious crime. We, the citizens of Pennsylvania, deserve better from all of those in government service. However, to hold them accountable, we must also read, study and understand both Constitutions.
Since 1998, I have been trying to get September 28th declared as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day" to celebrate the day in 1776 that the first Constitution of Pennsylvania was signed into law in Philadelphia. The proposed bill, which I wrote and have been attempting to get enacted into law, is:
An Act officially establishing and henceforth proclaiming September 28th of each year as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day", returning the study of the Pennsylvania Constitution in all public schools and requiring all those in the Pennsylvania government to know and understand the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Whereas, in recognition and acknowledgment of the rich history and fundamental principles of common law in Pennsylvania which are embodied in the original Constitution for the Commonwealth/State of Pennsylvania, and of the wisdom, understanding, and foresight of the Pennsylvania founding fathers who attended the first Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 (particularly to the statesmanship and leadership of the Convention's president, Benjamin Franklin) who wrote this first Constitution for the Commonwealth/State of Pennsylvania to establish a republican form of government for themselves and their posterity and to proclaim virtue, freedom, liberty, and independence of conscience for all men and women inviolate within Pennsylvania;
Whereas, to further recognize and acknowledge the embodiment of the true, fundamental Christian principles and morality which have always been a part of the common law of Pennsylvania and are the foundations of the Constitution of this Commonwealth/State; and to recognize, acknowledge and confirm the fundamental and supreme law position which the Pennsylvania Constitution imposes upon each and every individual within the Pennsylvania government, as evidenced and confirmed by the oath, or affirmation, taken by all those in authority. This oath, or affirmation, states, in part,: "I … shall support, obey and defend the … Constitution of this Commonwealth and discharge the duties of (my) office with fidelity.";
Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the representatives of the people of the Commonwealth/State of Pennsylvania in general assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that henceforth each 28th day of September shall be known and celebrated as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day" in reverent remembrance and proclamation of the adoption of the first Pennsylvania Constitution on the 28th day of September in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ 1776 and to the supreme laws, Declaration of Rights, and form of government proclaimed and established therein; and
So that all those in the Pennsylvania government may know and understand this historic, fundamental and supreme A.D. 1776 document, all those in Pennsylvania public schools, government office and all government positions of authority shall be required to read, study and acquire a confirmed, working knowledge and understanding of the first and current Constitution of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth/ State; with particular emphasis placed on the Declaration of Rights therein; and
Further, true, correct and complete copies of the September 28, A.D. 1776 and the current Constitution of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth/State shall be made available, at no cost to the recipient, by this Commonwealth for all those who may wish to acquire a copy thereof.
Enacted into law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on the __ day of __ in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, Two Thousand and __.
Almost every Citizen of Pennsylvania, who learns of this proposed Act 1776, has enthusiastically approved of it, particularly the requirement for those in government to read, understand and pass a comprehensive exam on our Constitution. But the Legislators in Harrisburg have failed to act on my repeated request for the enactment of Act 1776. They and their staffs give several unfounded reasons for not acting on this matter. One repeated reason given is that Sept. 28th is to close to "Constitution Day" on Sept. 17th. Of course the solution to this alleged objection is to celebrate the federal holiday of "Constitution Day" on June 21st, the actual day of the year in 1788 when the Constitution for the United States of America became the law that created the new federal government. In the alternative to correcting the error of the date of September 17th for celebrating the federal holiday, we could also celebrate September 28th as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day".
I shall proudly be celebrating "Pennsylvania Constitution Day" on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.
If you believe, as I do, that Pennsylvanians deserve to have an official day to celebrate our State Constitution, honor the framers who courageously created our first Commonwealth in 1776 and to insure that Pennsylvanians, particularly all those in government, shall once again read, study and understand the Constitution of the Commonwealth/State of Pennsylvania, please join the ongoing efforts to have September 28th established as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day."
Following the example of Olga T. Weber, we can work to get Township Supervisors, Borough or City Councils, County Commissioners, and the State Legislators and the Governor to formally establish Sept. 28th as "Pennsylvania Constitution Day" in their respective jurisdictions.
The proposed "Act 1776" shall be introduced early in the upcoming 2013 - 2014 Session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Please consider getting a version of the proposed "Act 1776" enacted into law in your Local and County governments. Obviously, it can be done. However, it will take persistence.
@Quote.Feature:"God grants liberty onlyto those who love it,and are always readyto guard and defend it."