Celebrating Constitution Day- September 17:
Years pass and it bears all kinds of memories along. Some of it sweet, some bitter and others bittersweet. For me, US citizenship was the final stop in a long and hard immigration journey.
In this journey, it is the US Constitution that was my best friend and strongest ally that enabled me and many others to achieve the American dream.
Constitution day is celebrated on September 17. Why is the Constitution of utmost importance. The US Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is the rulebook for American politics. It is also the document that has the Bill of Rights that guarantee fundamental rights.
The US Constitution is a small document but huge in its letters and spirit. Many states have constitutions that are way longer than the federal constitution. This is because it is much easier to amend a state constitution than it is to amend the federal constitution.
I became a citizen in September 2002, twenty years after a long immigration painful struggle. My naturalization ceremony was very memorable. I was one of the few, if not the only Arab and Muslim immigrant who had the honor and the privilege of taking their citizenship oath in a private citizenship ceremony in Dearborn. The oath was administered by the Honorable US District Judge George Caram Steeh.
Even when I wasn’t a citizen or permanent resident, the Constitution recognized my humanity and gave me rights. Many rights in the US Constitution use the word "person." The Fourth Amendment is about “the right of the people to be secure in their persons.” The Fifth Amendment states “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” As a person, I had many rights under the Constitution. And my due process rights made all the difference. The right to due process enabled me to fight for justice and fairness.
My fight for my very existence in the country showcased what is best about America: The Constitution, great judges, good lawyers, honorable politicians and a sympathetic public with a generous spirit.
Constitution Day is a day of pride for each one of us. It should not be just another day. It’s a day to renew our commitment to learning about the US Constitution and defending it. It’s our common duty to keep it alive amidst ongoing challenges that violate it in letter or spirit..
Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director