Constitution Day 2018: Fly your flag

September 17, 2018

Constitution Day comes every September 17, marking the day members of the Philadelphia convention signed the draft Constitution and sent it to the Second Continental Congress to be ratified by the 13 states.

Citizens may fly their flags, as government buildings do.

U.S. flag flying from the U.S.S. Constitution: CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (July 4, 2009) USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, returns to her berthing at the Charlestown Navy Yard after firing 21-gun and 19-gun salutes in Boston Harbor during 4th of July celebrations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark O'Donald/Released)

U.S. flag flying from the U.S.S. Constitution: CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (July 4, 2009) USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, returns to her berthing at the Charlestown Navy Yard after firing 21-gun and 19-gun salutes in Boston Harbor during 4th of July celebrations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released)

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Constitution Day 2015 – Fly your flag

September 17, 2015

Happy Constitution day!  (Remember to fly your flag today.)

Have you read the U.S. Constitution lately?

Contrary to what your local Tea Party claims, it hasn’t changed.  But most people need a refresher from time to time.

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

Okay, maybe that’s a little tough to read.  Check out the on-line display of the National Archives and Records Administration in the Charters of Freedom section:

The Constitution Center in Philadelphia plans a full day of celebration, much of it streamed online for classroom use:

Watch as we kick off the day with a rousing reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States on the museum’s front lawn!
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer meets with students for a town hall conversation about his work with the Constitution and the ins and outs of his job!
Join a virtual tour of the museum, including Signers’ Hall and The Story of We the People, followed by a conversation with Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit!
Justice Stephen Breyer returns to discuss his latest book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities, as well as how American law applies in international contexts.
Catch the newest edition of our award-winning video series and join our staff for a live discussion about Constitution Day! The chat will be available until September 23, from 7 AM to 6 PM EDT.
Follow along with our festivities on social media and share your own celebration! Join the conversation with @ConstitutionCtr and #ConstitutionDay!

Justice Stephen Breyer’s interview alone should be worth the price of admission. He’s taking on the bizarre notion that U.S. judges should never look to see what foreign courts and legislatures do. That view has led to state laws recently that claim to ban local courts’ use of foreign law.

In the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta? Hello?

Odd fact for Constitution Day: There is no direct mention of a U.S. flag in the Constitution.

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Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at Nationa...

Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at National Archives (NARA) building in Washington, D.C. Here displayed are the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#ConstitutionDay

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.


2014’s Constitution Day – Fly your flag

September 17, 2014

Happy Constitution day!  (Remember to fly your flag today.)

Have you read the U.S. Constitution lately?

Contrary to what your local Tea Party claims, it hasn’t changed.  But most people need a refresher from time to time.

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

Okay, maybe that’s a little tough to read.  Check out the on-line display of the National Archives and Records Administration in the Charters of Freedom section:

More:

 

Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at Nationa...

Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at National Archives (NARA) building in Washington, D.C. Here displayed are the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an encore post.

This is an encore post.

 


Fly your flag today, Constitution Day 2012

September 17, 2012

 

Did you remember to put your flag up today?  September 17 is Constitution, one of the score of dates on which Congress recommends everyone to fly their U.S. flag.

Flag at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, with fireworks - National Park Service image

U.S. flag flying at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, with fireworks – National Park Service image. Fort McHenry is one of the sites Congress designated to fly the flag 24 hours a day, lighted or not.

 


Constitution Day, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

Happy Constitution day!  (Remember to fly your flag today.)

Have you read the U.S. Constitution lately?

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

First page of the U.S. Constitution, National Archives and Records Administration photo

Okay, maybe that’s a little tough to read.  Check out the on-line display of the National Archives and Records Administration in the Charters of Freedom section:

More:

 

Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at Nationa...

Rotunda for the charters of Freedom at National Archives (NARA) building in Washington, D.C. Here displayed are the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


September 17, 490 B.C.: Athenians triumph at the Battle of Marathon

September 17, 2008

A smaller, less-highly regarded force of Athenians faced a larger, better trained, more experienced army of Persians.  Sparta’s promised reinforcements had not yet arrived.

And yet the Greeks triumphed over the Persians at Marathon.  How?

Historian Jason K. Fosten described the tactics, and the battle, in the February 2007 issue of Military History:

Two Greek generals followed the dictates of Santayana, whose ghost couldn’t exist because his corporeal existence was nearly 2,500 years in the future — they studied history, and they made plans to avoid the errors others had made in the past.

The two Athenian commanders, Callimachus and Miltiades (the latter having fought in the Persian army himself), used their knowledge of Persian battle tactics to turn the tide further in their favor. As the clatter of spears, swords and shields echoed through the valley, the Greeks had ensured that their best hoplites (heavily armed infantry) were on the flanks and that their ranks were thinned in the center. Persian battle doctrine dictated that their best troops, true Persians, fought in the center, while conscripts, pressed into service from tribute states, fought on the flanks. The Persian elite forces surged into the center of the fray, easily gaining the ascendancy. But this time it was a fatal mistake. The Persian conscripts whom the Hellenic hoplites faced on the flanks quickly broke into flight. The Greeks then made another crucial decision: Instead of pursuing their fleeing foes, they turned inward to aid their countrymen fighting in the center of the battle.

By then, the Persians were in a state of utter confusion. Their tactics had failed, their cavalry was absent and their archers were useless. Their more heavily armed and armored opponents, who could sense that victory was close, were attacking them from three sides and pushing them into the sea. The Persians fled back to their ships. Many of the Athenians, buoyed by their success, dragged several of the Persian vessels to shore, slaughtering those on board.

When the day was over, the Greeks had won one of history’s most famous victories, claiming to have killed about 6,400 Persians for the loss of only 192 Athenians. The Spartans eventually arrived, but only after the battle was long over. To assuage their disbelief in the Athenians’ victory, they toured the battlefield. To their amazement, they found the claim of victory was indeed true. The Athenians had defeated the most powerful empire in the Western world.

It was a great victory.  The Athenians had been so certain of defeat, however, that they had made plans to burn Athens and have Athenians left behind commit suicide rather than be captured by the Persians.  In order to prevent the plans from going through, they needed one more tremendous piece of history, and they called on their runner:

With time of the essence, the Athenians dispatched Pheidippides to inform Athens’ populace of their victory before the troops arrived. The tale goes that after running the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, Pheidippides exclaimed: “Rejoice! We conquer!” then died from exhaustion. Whether true or not, that is the source of the modern-day marathon race; the distance of the modern race reflects the distance Pheidippides ran.

I opened world history this year asking how many had seen the movie “300.”  It produced some excitement, which I was glad to see.  Not enough students knew that it was based on a real battle.  We recounted the story of the victories at Thermopylae and Salamis, and then told the story of the set up for that war, the Greek victory at Marathon.  It was just after the Olympics closed — tying the battles to the last event of the Olympics, in honor of Pheidippides, made for a great class, for me.  For the students?  I hope so.

One of my intended learning points was that history is about the stories, not about memorizing dates and places.  Stories, they like.  Dates and places, not so much.

Another point:  History is all around us, even when we play couch potato and just watch the Olympics.

I knew I’d scored when a student asked me after class whether I knew when this year’s marathon would be rebroadcast, so she could watch it.


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