Events celebrate anniversary of U.S. Constitution

By Curt Yeomans


One hundred people are scheduled to celebrate Constitution Day in Morrow on Thursday by becoming citizens of the nation that the document governs.

The National Archives at Atlanta will host a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony on Thursday -- Constitution Day -- at 10 a.m., at the archives, located at 5780 Jonesboro Road, in Morrow.

Thursday is called Constitution Day to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, which took place on Sept. 17, 1787, at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, Pa. This year marks the 222nd anniversary of that event.

"We try to do a lot of these ceremonies on days with patriotic themes, such as Constitution Day, or the Fourth of July," said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Spokesperson Ana Santiago. "We do these ceremonies throughout the year, of course, but they take on special meaning on those days with patriotic themes ..."

During the naturalization ceremony, the Americans-to-be will take the Oath of Allegiance to their new nation, and they will also perform the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag for the first time as citizens of this country, Santiago said.

"The most important part of the ceremony is the administering of the Oath of Allegiance," she said. "That's the part were they pledge allegiance to their new country, and they break all former allegiances to foreign nations, princes and rulers."

Due to space constraints at the National Archives at Atlanta, the naturalization ceremony will not be open to the public, said archives Public Programs Specialist Mary Evelyn Tomlin. Clayton State University's web site will show the ceremony live, however.

Georgia has been tied to the Constitution since it was created. It was among the original states to have representatives who signed the document. It was also among the first five states, along with Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, to ratify the nation's governing document by early January 1788, according to the National Archives and Records Administration's web site.

Among the 39 signers of the Constitution were Georgia representatives Abraham Baldwin, and William Few, according to NARA's national web site. Biographies for both founding fathers are posted on the web site as well.

Baldwin's biography says he went on to become one of Georgia's first representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1789-1799. He then represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate, from 1799-1807.

According to Few's biography, he became one of Georgia's first U.S. Senators, serving in that role from 1789-1793. In 1796, he was appointed as a federal judge for the Georgia circuit. He resigned his judgeship in 1799, and moved to New York City, according to the biography.

The anniversary of the signing of the Constitution will also be highlighted at Clayton State University, with a week-long celebration. This year marks Clayton State's Fifth Annual Constitution Week.

Throughout Constitution Week, there will be exhibits on 18th Century women's clothing; on runaway slave-turned-sailor, and Boston Massacre victim, Crispus Attucks, and artwork depicting, and interpreting, the signing of the Constitution on display in the lobby of the CSU Library.

A voter registration drive will sbe conducted throughout the week, on "Main Street" in the James M. Baker University Center.

The schedule of events also includes:

· A keynote address that will be delivered by National Archives at Atlanta Regional Administrator James McSweeney, on Monday, Sept. 14, at noon, in room 272 of the James M. Baker University Center.

· A "Constitutional Drama, " depicting events at the Constitutional Convention, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 11:30 a.m., in the University Amphitheater.

· A speech by Brunswick-based historical interpreter, William Temple, who will talk about life as a colonial soldier, on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 11:30 a.m., in the amphitheater.

· A "Right to Bear Tongs" hot dog sale, organized by members of Clayton State's Student Veterans Association, on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 11:30 a.m., in the school's University Quad area.

· Temple will again talk about life as a colonial soldier, on Friday, Sept. 18, at noon, at the National Archives at Atlanta.

Free copies of the Constitution will be distributed at all Constitution Week events that take place on the CSU campus. The school's events are also open to the public.


On the Net:

National Archives and Records Administration: www.archives.gov

National Archives at Atlanta: www.archives.gov/southeast

Clayton State University: www.clayton.edu