BOISE — Bells rang throughout the city of Boise on Friday at 2 p.m. in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, which is celebrated annually on Sept. 17. Friday also kicked off Constitution Week, which runs Sept. 17-23.
Together, the day and week are meant to celebrate the Constitution and the rights of citizenship enjoyed by the people of the United States.
The holiday was initially started after the Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned Congress to dedicate the week of Sept. 17-23 to the observance of the Constitution’s signing.
A nonprofit volunteer women’s organization, the Daughters of the American Revolution is a group dedicated to promoting patriotism and preserving American history.
Members of the organization in Boise and throughout Idaho are committed to celebrating the Constitution in a variety of different ways.
“We’ve done a lot of preparation in our local libraries to set up informational displays to remind folks that this week is coming. Then today, which is the first official day of Constitution Week, we’ve got the bell ringing and the governor will be signing a proclamation,” said Janice Beller, the organization’s state of Idaho Vice Regent.
In Boise, a celebration took place at the Idaho State Capitol where the Liberty Bell was rung following Gov. Brad Little’s Constitution Week Proclamation. The bell was rung at precisely 2 p.m., which correlated to the signing time of the original Constitution.
Churches throughout Boise’s downtown area and North End neighborhood were also invited to ring their bells in unison with the Idaho State Capitol’s bell.
“Some of the local churches downtown will be ringing their church bells all at two o’clock, which is coordinated nationwide,” said Donna Smith-Burns, the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Pioneer Chapter Vice Regent and Co-Chair of the Treasure Valley Constitution Week Committee. “So, it’s bells across America.”
Joining in on the action, the City of Boise Parks and Recreation Department rang the bell at the historic Boise Train Depot. According to Chloe Sallabanks, the executive communications and event coordinator for the City of Boise, this was the first year the bell at the train depot has been rung in celebration of Constitution Day.
Another activity in Boise was an in-depth panel discussion on the Constitution and First Amendment rights, sponsored by the Idaho Law Foundation and Attorneys for Civic Education. The event drew more than 500 viewers online and more than 100 in-person attendees at the state Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium.
This year marks the 234th anniversary of the original signing of the Constitution.
It was on Sept. 17, 1787, after months of deliberation, that members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia.
After the document was signed, the announcement spread from town to town via the ringing of church bells.
“The bell ringings are always kind of fun because it’s a throwback to the tradition,” Beller said. “I think it’s a nod back to kind of how information used to be shared at the time of our patriot ancestors.”
The Constitution, for over 200 years now, has stood as one of the most important documents in the country, helping define the government and guaranteeing the rights of U.S. citizens. Accordingly, local members of the Daughters of the Revolution don’t let Constitution Day – or Constitution Week – go by without some form of acknowledgement.
Into next week, members of the organization will head to schools in the Treasure Valley to share stories of their patriot ancestors and to talk with students about the Constitution.
“From the D.A.R.’s perspective, it really is every American’s responsibility to understand and to embrace that document and understand what your rights and obligations are under the document,” Beller said. “You can’t understand what it means to be an American unless you really understand what the Constitution says and means.”