All ages take part in annual Constitution Day celebrations


On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Shippensburg University recognized Constitution Day with a speech by Helen J. Knowles, a visiting professor from Skidmore College.

In her speech, Knowles gave insight into Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s role as a tiebreaker on many Supreme Court decisions.

For instance, in the U.S. v. Windsor case regarding same-sex marriage, Kennedy’s interpretation of the Constitution brought him to the conclusion that key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act were unconstitutional. Kennedy is predicted to cast similar tie breaking votes this year on cases involving same-sex marriage, abortion, and campaign financing.

“Dr. Knowles is a distinguished, nationally known expert on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Her book on Justice Kennedy, “The Tie Goes To Freedom,” is considered to be the leading book about him in the field of Public Law,” said Dr. Steven Lichtman, SU professor of political science, who hosted the event.

Knowles’ speech touched on Kennedy’s legal thought processes, his process of relating to court colleagues and the possible outcomes of future court cases.

On Friday morning, a small, but serious, battalion of fourth and fifth graders from Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School marched across the quad of SU. Adorned with red, white and blue construction paper hats and Uncle Sam-style leggings, the fledgling patriots were poised to recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution in front of the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library.

Dr. Dennis Mathes introduced the event with a short speech in which he reaffirmed the university’s intent on performing the event simply for its own sake, not because it is federally mandated.
SU Interim President Jody Harpster followed with remarks on the importance of the Preamble and its continued impact on all of our lives.

Photo by Benjamin Anwyll / The Slate
Photo by Benjamin Anwyll / The Slate

“This event starts children thinking, and prepares them to ask questions [about the U.S. government], whether it’s because of the hats and costumes, the pictures they drew, the reports they wrote, the speeches they gave or the reciting of the Preamble itself,” Harpster said.

Cindy Pimental, a teacher at the elementary school, and three of her elementary students, Clara Pagel, Gabby Stevens and Lauren Kierskowski also gave short speeches about the significance of the U. S. founding document.

“I’m happy to see the undergraduate class here as well as the children. While it’s important to establish in the minds of the children, it’s equally important to remind us when we’re older; we sometimes have a tendency to forget,” Mathes said.

The event concluded with an art gallery exhibit inside the library, which showed off the artwork and reports the children had crafted for the occasion.

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