I’ve been involved in naturalization and citizenship work for nearly twenty-five years, and I’m embarrassed to say that until I received an email today from CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, I didn’t know that September 17th was Citizenship Day in the United States.

Here’s what CLINIC says about it:

“Citizenship Day, which occurs this year on September 17th, is an important holiday to mark on our calendars, especially for the Church and immigration service providers working with newcomers. The day provides an opportunity to celebrate the work we do, the value of citizenship, and the contributions of immigrants to our communities. Citizenship Day was established by President Harry Truman in 1952. It replaced “I am an American Day,” which had been celebrated since 1940 on the third Sunday in May. September 17 was chosen for Citizenship Day because it was the day on which the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship, and to honor both native-born and naturalized citizens.”

CLINIC goes on to write, ” In a speech celebrating the very first Citizenship Day, President Truman exhorted all citizens to educate themselves about our government, stay informed of the “great problems of the day,” and exercise the right to vote. He said, “The success of free government depends upon the willingness of the citizen to participate in it, to contribute to it, and to sacrifice for it.”

Teachers might want to start thinking about using Citizenship Day as a teaching opportunity, as well as its possible use to leverage resources and public attention to citizenship issues.