We the People of the United States…

Constitution Day and Citizenship day, celebrated every year on September 17, marks the 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution, which defines the U.S. Government and outlines the fundamental rights of all citizens. As the guardians of the nation’s Charters of Freedom, including the Constitution, we serve a key role in this yearly celebration.

Thirty-one new United States naturalized citizens took the oath of allegiance on Constitution Day on Monday at the National Archives Rotunda in Washington, DC. Sworn in just steps away from the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—the new Americans hail from 25 different countries: Australia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Togo, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Image of naturalized U.S. citizens taking the oath of allegiance at the Naturalization Ceremony
Thirty-one naturalized U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance at the Naturalization Ceremony held at the National Archives’ Rotunda in Washington, DC, on Constitution Day, September 17, 2018. (National Archives photo by Kelsey Bell)

Guest speaker the Honorable Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, expressed her gratitude at being able to share the “special day” with the new citizens. Kennedy said, “Every time I enter this Rotunda, I am overwhelmed with the privilege and the responsibility that comes with being an American.”

Image of the Honorable Caroline Kennedy with Nii Armah Dagadu, originally from Ghana, who was sworn in as a new American citizen at the event.
The Honorable Caroline Kennedy provided the keynote address at the Naturalization Ceremony held at the National Archives on Constitution Day, September 17, 2018. Nii Armah Dagadu, originally from Ghana, was sworn in as a new American citizen at the event. (National Archives photo by Kelsey Bell)

“America is the only country founded on an ideal,” Kennedy added. “We have no king, no official church or language—we are bound to each other by our shared commitment to the ideals and values of freedom, equality, opportunity, tolerance, diversity, and the rule of law. The fact that ours is the oldest written constitution still in use is a testament to the enduring power of those ideas, and to the skill with which the Founders framed them.”

The first and signature pages of the Constitution have been on display since the entire document came here from the Library of Congress in 1952. In 1970, for the first time ever, we displayed all four pages of the original document during Constitution Week. Doing so was the idea of Assistant Archivist for Educational Programs Frank Burke after having a conversation with a visitor inquiring why all pages were not on public view. Since 2003 all four pages of the document have been on display for more than a million visitors each year.

I encourage you to visit the National Archives News page on Constitution Day, where you can find events and resources about the Constitution, read a transcript of the Constitution or watch a number of related videos. Let us reflect on our privilege as public servants and as Americans. Take a few moments to read the Constitution as citizens united by its enduring value to our nation. We hold in trust the records that tell our nation’s story.

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