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Celebrating US Citizenship Day

06th December 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
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Being a US citizen is in itself a reason to celebrate. However, the American Federal Government has been observing September 17 as the US Constitution Day or Citizenship Day. It is in recognition of the adoption of the US constitution and also of the highly privileged US citizens. September 17 has been chosen for this because it was on this day, in the year 1787 that the US Constitutional convention signed the US constitution. This day is celebrated with much pomp and happiness in all the US states.

Origin of the US Citizenship Day

Originally September 17 was just the Citizenship day. It was in 2004 that this day was renamed as ‘Constitution Day and Citizenship Day’ and a law declaring a holiday on this day was created. This was during the passing of an amendment to the Omnibus spending bill. Additionally, this law also made it mandatory for all educational institutions (publicly funded) to provide some sort of educative program which brings out a general awareness of the rich history of the US constitution.

This law was brought into action form May 2005 when the US Department of state took to this law indicating that schools receiving federal funds of any nature will have to abide by this new law. One notable thing of this law is that this holiday will not be a day for taking off from work, in the case of Federal employees.

Celebrating the Citizenship Day

Being a US citizen is indeed a great privilege and one must know about the history and constitution of the country that is offering them these benefits. It is the simplest yet meaningful way in which one can repay the country. The Citizenship test which is a compulsory part of the naturalization process tests the applicants about their knowledge on the US constitution. Only if they answer six out of 10 questions correctly, will they get a pass in the test. It is not just enough to learn about the US history for the sake of passing the test, but one must gather sufficient knowledge about the Country’s history and civics in order to be a meaningful US citizen.

Ever year on this day, USCIS celebrates by commemorating the US constitution and its esteemed citizens. Inducting new citizens to the US citizen community is a part of the celebrations. Many US universities and colleges have created ‘US Constitution and Citizenship weeks’ as a measure to implement the law. In case the Citizenship Day falls on a weekend or on any other local holiday, then this day will be observed on an adjacent weekday.

Citizenship day of 2011

This year, the USCIS welcomed more than 27,000 new citizens to mark the special occasion. This was done during the week of September 15 through 285 naturalization ceremonies held in the US and also around the world. Additionally, the USCIS partnered with the National Park Service – NPS so as to have the naturalization ceremonies at 14 different US national parks.

The capstone ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Washington Monument in Washington D.C on September 23. Also an addition to this year’s citizenship day celebrations includes a ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City and at the Yosemite National Park in California. Ceremonies are also scheduled at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Washington), the Roger Williams National Memorial (Providence, R.I) and Point Reyes National Seashore (California), Golden Hall( San Diego), the National Archives ( Atlanta and Boston) and Campbell Heritage theatre ( California). A military naturalization ceremony has also been planned on the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C.

The special reason for choosing national parks to host the ceremonies is that the parks preserve significant natural resources and heritage sites of cultural importance. Moreover, these places are the most suitable ones wherein one can learn and reflect on being an American Citizen and the responsibilities that come along with it.

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