GEORGETOWN — Right before Cathy Gorman’s stirring delivery of the national anthem, several handbells rang out 13 times from within The Circle Friday afternoon.
Sept. 17 is Constitution Day and the start of Constitution Week across America, an annual ceremony observed and celebrated locally by the Maj. Nathaniel Mitchell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Georgetown.
“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” beckoned Chapter Chaplain Judith Schlott, dressed in colonial attire. “It has been declared that we shall ring bells across America every Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. … to be heard from coast to coast in celebration of the U.S. Constitution. Let us ring our bells 13 times for our colonies that voted for our Constitution.”
“Our Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history, to maintain their liberties and freedom and to ensure those unalienable rights to every American,” said Carol Evans, chapter regent.
Petitioned by the DAR in 1955, Congress set aside Sept. 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. It was signed into public law No. 915 by President Dwight Eisenhower on Aug. 2, 1956.
Ms. Evans said this annual celebration aims to:
• Emphasize citizens’ responsibilities to protect and defend the Constitution, preserving it for prosperity,
• Inform the people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation of our way of life, and to encourage the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787, and
• Encourage “our children, grandchildren, our friends or whomever you come in contact with to study the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution,” Ms. Evans said.
The ceremony included proclamations from the Town of Millsboro, Town of Georgetown and the State of Delaware.
The state proclamation, from Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and read by State Regent Dr. Gloria Lester, marked the 234th anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution. It declared Sept. 17-23 Constitution Week in the State of Delaware, asking “our citizens to reaffirm the ideals of the framers of the Constitution by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this important document, remembering that lost rights may never be regained.”
“What better place to have this,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “We’ve got government buildings. We’ve got courts. That’s what it’s all about. This is America. This is the Constitution, and there is no better place to be than to be here with you ladies that represent it on a daily basis, with your organization.”
Ms. Evans offered a condensed version of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
She noted the Second Amendment — the right to keep and bear arms. “I personally believe this amendment is in jeopardy. It’s one we need to protect,” Ms. Evans said.
“The first 10 amendments are the ones that protect us, and we need to defend them,” said Ms. Evans. “Without the Constitution, our foundation, this nation, will crumble.”