Waco: BU President Weighs In On Constitution Day

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

WACO (September 17, 2013)—Tuesday was the 226th birthday of the U.S. Constitution, a document that by all measures has stood the test of time and remains among the most sanctified documents in the world.

Constitution Day, also called Citizenship Day, is observed annually on Sept. 17 and is recognized as the day members of the U.S. Constitutional Convention, in 1787, signed the document.

First celebrated in Iowa in 1911, the day now is a recognized federal holiday after Sen. Robert Byrd was successful in getting the resolution honoring the holiday passed by Congress in 2004.

The 2004 law resulted in renaming Citizenship Day as Constitution Day and it now requires publicly-funded educational institutions to teach the history of the U.S. Constitution in observance of the holiday.

Baylor President Ken Starr, who’s recognized as a constitutional scholar, said in an editorial he penned for some local newspapers to commemorate the day, "Or Founding Fathers understood, as the old song goes, "there'll be some changes made."

Starr pointed out that of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention only 37 actually signed the document.

Most notable among the missing signatures is Patrick Henry, of Virginia, who not only didn't sign his name to the draft but even refused to attend the convention.

"Those 18th-century Americans vigorously spoke their minds in what we call the ratification debates," Starr said.

"Thank goodness the document as proposed in the
Constitutional Convention did not require each and every one of the original 13 states to say yes.

"Under Article VII, nine would do the trick," Starr said.

"Beginning with the Bill of Rights (accounting in one fell swoop for almost one-third of all constitutional amendments), these 27 Amendments responded to felt needs and unfolding traditions.

"All, save the prohibition amendment, have remained," Starr said

As for standing the test of time Starr said: "This unparalleled constitutional experience is dismissed by some as interestingly quaint but irrelevant to current times.

"Other models, more focused and detailed on individual rights, are said to be the wave of the future.

"But there seems no popular sentiment anywhere in this land for changing the model erected in the 18th century," Starr said.

"The Founders were onto something," Starr said.

"What they have given the nation, with the ability for measured change along the way, has stood the test of time.

"And the pivotal fact of our national experience is that America's Constitution has provided an architecture of expanding freedom unmatched in the history of the planet.

"That's good reason to celebrate the Constitution's 226th," Starr said.

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