Constitution Day Embarrassment: Most Americans Confuse Day With Declaration of Independence

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    A U.S. flag waves in the wind on a boat near the Statue of Liberty in New York August 31, 2011.
By Gina E. Ryder, Christian Post Contributor
September 16, 2011|1:21 pm

Saturday marks the 224th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. However, a survey has shown that Americans are lost when it comes to understanding the document upon which their country is founded.

One third of people surveyed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center are unable to correctly name any of the branches of government, and only 38 percent of the poll’s respondents can name all three branches (executive, legislative and judicial).

The Constitution was signed Sept. 17, 1787. However, a majority of pollsters mistakenly believed that the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1776; which is actually the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

It seems as though entertainment knowledge trumps civic knowledge as 27 percent correctly named Randy Jackson as a judge on TV’s American Idol, and 15 percent could correctly say John Roberts is chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"These failings threaten the future of our democracy," wrote retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in a column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. "If we don't know what makes this country special and worth saving, how will we know how to safeguard its promise of freedom and opportunity."

In a separate event, the Tea Party Patriots released a coloring book to teach children about the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The book uses puzzles, games and song.

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The book "is an excellent way to help kids understand how important freedom is in their lives and why we need to protect it," said Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.

O’Conner commemorated the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution today in Philadelphia. After the ceremony, O'Connor touted an online program called iCivics, which promotes education in government.

 

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