Constitution Day celebrated with songs, BBQ

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Joseph Malone, Contributing Writer

 

Mary Gilstrap, Ryan Landry and Patrick Mangan enjoy celebrating Constitution Day the “right way,” as Dr. Susan Hanssen puts it. -Photo by Rebecca Rosen
Mary Gilstrap, Ryan Landry and Patrick Mangan enjoy celebrating
Constitution Day the “right way,” as Dr. Susan Hanssen puts it.
-Photo by Rebecca Rosen

Loud huzzahs echoed fervently in upstairs Haggar last Sunday as students and faculty participated in the annual Constitution Day dinner and celebration hosted by the politics department. The Constitution of the United States was signed on September 17th, 1787, and for the past thirty-eight years, the University of Dallas has been celebrating with food, conversation and song.

The evening began with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A barbecue dinner followed, during which Dr. Richard Dougherty, chair of the politics department, gave a speech entitled “Who Owns the Constitution?”

Dougherty explained that the current form of U.S. government has very little in common with the system created by the Founding Fathers; today, “Congress can avoid passing real laws to avoid taking responsibility for laws affecting society.” In order to do so, it employs agencies, some far separated from Congress, to make the laws.

“Congress distances itself from unpopular laws passed by these agencies,” said Dougherty, citing the HHS mandate as an example.

Returning to the question of who owns the Constitution, Dougherty concluded, “We do; not the government, not the courts and not the career politicians.”

After Dougherty’s speech, the attendees expected to sing patriotic songs; instead, they were surprised with a dramatic reenactment of the Revolutionary War featuring Paul Revere, Redcoats and minutemen. After a short time, the Redcoats were forcibly removed from the room. The skit was performed to a rousing accompaniment by Rita Pilgrim on piano and theology professor Dr. Mark Lowery on drums.

Participants then sang traditional favorites including “America the Beautiful,” “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The evening came to a close with “Texas,Our Texas.”

“The sing-along is something no one should miss,” said Lowery. “The attendees get a chance to sing the fourth, fifth and sixth verses of these songs at Constitution Day.”

The students, faculty and their families embraced the participatory nature of theevening, from the children who walked around waving U.S. flags to the faculty and students who sang at the tops of their voices.

“[Constitution Day is] my favorite event on campus,” said history professor Dr. Susan Hanssen. “We do it right down here at UD – it’s rousy and rowdy. It’s not like Princeton’s.”

Students responded favorably to the event as well.

“I never thought I’d have so much fun singing patriotic songs,” said senior Mary English.

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