The Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be celebrating Constitution Week from September 17 – 23. This year will mark the 66th year the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will celebrate Constitution Week.
Did you know that a New Bern native proposed Constitution Week? In 1955, the President General of the DAR, New Bern’s very own Gertrude S. Carraway, adopted a project to promote the observance of the U.S. Constitution with a memorial week beginning on the anniversary of the signing of this document, September 17. If you have traveled around New Bern, you might have heard of the name Gertrude Carraway before. Ms. Carraway was instrumental in the restoration of Tryon Palace. There is a memorial garden named after her behind the Waystation for Tryon Palace because of the contributions she made to restoration efforts. Ms. Carraway believed in preserving history and educating the community. Whenever you keep in mind her general outlook, it is not surprising she would want to undertake a project to promote the observance of the U.S. Constitution.
Under the leadership of Ms. Carraway, the DAR petitioned the U.S. Congress to dedicate September 17 – 23 of each year to the commemoration of Constitution Week. Congress adopted the resolution, and on August 2, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into Public Law #915. The celebration’s goals are threefold: to encourage the study of the historical events that led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787; to remind the public that the Constitution is the basis of America’s great heritage and the foundation for its way of life; and to emphasize U.S. citizens’ responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the U.S. Constitution.
The Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter will be holding a traditional Ringing of the Bells Ceremony on September 17th at 4pm at the North Carolina History Center. On September 17, 1787, forty-two delegates gathered in the Pennsylvania State House for the final day of the Constitutional Convention. Thirty-nine of the forty-two delegates signed the Constitution of the United States. As the delegates we leaving the Pennsylvania State House at 4pm, bells were rung in town to signify the signing of the Constitution. The Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter invites you to join us in celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by ringing a bell with us at 4pm on September 17th.
In addition to the Ringing of the Bells ceremony, we will be hosting another Constitution Week Bear Hunt. We invite everyone to get out and walk around downtown New Bern during Constitution Week. While you are walking around, you can test your Constitution IQ. Be on the hunt for the ten Downtown Bears that have a special Constitution Week sign with a trivia question about the Constitution. Do you think you will be able to get all ten questions right? Do you need to brush up on your Constitution history? How many questions did you answer without looking up the answer? Who in your group got most correct answers? We hope you have fun while learning with friends and family during your Constitution Week Bear Hunt. We would like to thank the businesses that are allowing us to include their Downtown Bears in the hunt: City of New Bern, Courtyard by Marriott, Chestnut & Clemmons Law Firm, Excel Learning Center, Mitchell Hardware, New Bern Convention Center, William Hand III Dentistry, Robinson & Stith Insurance, New Bern Historical Society, and Sumrell, Sugg, Carmichael, Hicks & Hart Law Firm.
Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic is still flourishing this year and we still will not be able to visit the local elementary schools. Traditionally, the Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter visited the local elementary schools and provided a program to the students about the U.S. Constitution. For the second year, we have supplied information to the schools electronically so the teachers will be able to share information with their students. We have tried to emphasize the ties New Bern has to the Constitution. Did you know that Richard Dobbs Spaight, born in New Bern, was one of North Carolina delegates that attended the Constitutional Convention? Only three out of the five North Carolina delegates signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Richard Dobbs Spaight was one of the three that signed the Constitution. Our chapter will also provide poster-sized copies of the Constitution, pocket Constitution books, and chapter books about the Constitution to some of the schools.
By Nikki Gonzalez, Constitution Week Committee Chair, Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution