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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 17, 1996




At a time when many nations around the world are becoming ever more factionalized, the citizens of the United States are blessed with an overarching identity as Americans. The wisdom of our Nation's founders, as embodied in our Constitution, still binds us in a united community of purpose and ideals. Our Constitution invites us all to recognize ourselves as Americans first -- not to de-emphasize our personal or familial roots, but to celebrate the diversity that adds strength to our national character. As Daniel Webster put it more than a century ago, we share "One country, one constitution, one destiny."

This week we celebrate the Constitution of the United States of America. This remarkably flexible document has stood for more than two centuries as a unique achievement in the world of nations. The more we study and understand the Constitution, the more we grow, mature, and blossom as citizens. This process links us to the Nation's founders by making us part of their great adventure in democracy. By living our daily lives according to the founders' principles, we keep alive their vision and demonstrate its truth and wisdom.

In order to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrants undertake a formal study of the guiding principles and institutions of American government. Those who choose to become citizens proudly welcome this responsibility. In fact, all of us would do well to emulate the zeal and interest shown by these newest Americans, who deeply appreciate their bond with the noble tradition of our Constitution. Therefore, on this occasion I call upon all Americans to consider the wonderful blessings of their United States citizenship and to look upon our Constitution and celebrate the freedom and protection that it has always afforded us.

In commemoration of the signing of our Constitution and in recognition of the importance of informed, responsible citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 153), designated September 17 as "Citizenship Day," and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 159), requested the President to proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as "Constitution Week."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 1996, as Citizenship Day and September 17 through September 23, 1996, as Constitution Week, and urge all Americans to join in observing these occasions with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-first.


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