Constitution Day celebration continues UD tradition

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University of Dallas students, professors and families joined to celebrate the 42nd UD Constitution Day. Photo by Anthony Garnier.

The University of Dallas Politics Department hosted and sponsored their annual Constitution Day on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. in upstairs Haggar. This is a tradition that started in the ’70s.

To celebrate the 229th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution, UD invited students, faculty, alumni and guests to a barbecue with speeches and patriotic American songs.

This the 42nd time UD has celebrated Constitution Day.

Upon entering, attendees were given songbooks, and found small American flags sitting on their neatly-made tables.

Most in attendance dressed up for the occasion, with the majority wearing suits or skirts. Some added extra touches with red, white and blue clothes and accessories.

Once settled, the people talking at their tables grew quiet to allow Dr. Richard Dougherty, chair of the Politics Department, to speak.

Dougherty stood behind a pulpit decorated with a flag on each side.

According to Dougherty’s speech, Constitution Day was originally founded when a student asked for more opportunities to sing traditional American songs.

This occurred long before most other schools started their own variation of the day. In 2004, it became a federally observed holiday, and state-funded schools were required to celebrate it.

This tradition has also inspired others to do the same. Last year, 1988 UD graduate Stephanie Bascon instituted a Constitution Day dinner celebration in New Braunfels, Texas, which her law office sponsored.

“This time last year, I was particularly worried about the direction our country was going in, [based on] the fact that people did not seem to know what our Constitution stands for, and concerned about what was being taught in colleges across the country,” Bascon wrote to Dougherty. “Rather than simply lament the situation, I decided to do something about it.”

Dougherty welcomed those in attendance to the event and started the Pledge of Allegiance, for which everyone stood. Many kept their hands over their hearts for the song that came next: “God Bless America.”

Soon after, grace was said and guests were invited to eat a barbecue dinner.

Dougherty also introduced a guest speaker.

Although speakers from outside of UD have attended before, Dougherty believes that the students enjoy talks  more when the speaker is a professor of their own school.

“We do have a talk, and it’s a serious thing, but it’s also meant to be light and entertaining as well as thoughtful,” Dougherty said.

This year, Director of International Studies & Associate Professor Dr. Jonathan Culp attended Constitution Day for the eighth time and spoke for his first time at the celebration.

“We try to be enlightening in the talk,” Culp said. “You always get to hear some well informed discussion. It’s substantive.”

Culp’s talk, “What Does 2016 Have To Do With 1787,” addressed the current dissatisfaction with the 2016 election and how the Constitution affects it and is responsible for it.

Upon finishing, Culp shook hands with Dougherty before sitting back down with his wife and children as the crowd clapped.

The remainder of the time was spent singing patriotic and historical American songs all the way back from the Revolutionary War out of the provided songbook while children paraded around the room waving the flags that had been set on their tables.

“[Constitution Day] is the event of the year. It really is,” Dougherty said. “It’s early in the year, so it brings people together early on. It’s a joyful event.”

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