Celebrating the U.S. Constitution always rouses the Theodosia Burr Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to promote patriotism and education.
For Constitution Week, celebrated Sept. 17-23 annually to honor its ratification by 39 courageous individuals, the local group welcomes the public to its “Constitution Commemoration Day” program, 10 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 3810 Grissom Parkway, Myrtle Beach.
Besides Mark Collins — from History channel’s miniseries “Revolution” and the movie sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” — portraying a tall founding father, George Washington, the Carolina Master Chorale will sing patriotic music and WPDE-TV 15’s Joel Allen will announce the 13 colonies. (If anyone wonders what state was admitted first after ratification of the Constitution, Vermont was 14th in the Union, as of March 4, 1791.)
Among other co-founders of the United States of America, James Madison — the country’s eighth secretary of state and fourth president — was said to be soft spoken in person but so powerful with his pen, like fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson, and is considered the “Father of the Constitution,” its lead writer.
Deanna Cochran, public relations/media chairwoman and corresponding secretary for the DAR’s Theodosia Burr Chapter, detailed her enthusiasm for the group’s Constitution Day event.
Question | Just how steeped in tradition has Constitution Day and Week, observed every Sept. 17-23, become?
Answer | It’s all over the country. It’s been since 1955, when the DAR had a petition in Congress to certify the language and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the law in 1956.
Q. | What extra awareness do the founding fathers merit for their foresight and determination in getting this nation off the ground?
A. | The founding fathers were definitely important. The purpose of Constitution Week is to emphasize the responsibility to encourage the study of the events that led to the framing of the Constitution, which leads to studying about all these founding fathers and what they went through. They all go together.
Q. | With Constitution Commemoration Day/Week and various groups marking this occasion nationwide, what new avenues are connecting with citizenry and, more importantly, with young people, such as students in elementary schools?
A. | What we’re doing is announcing our program to schools and other groups in the area. We also have Mark Collins coming to our event; he has an uncanny resemblance to George Washington. I met him several years ago at a DAR convention. He is about 6-foot-4, and he comes dressed as Gen. George Washington, commander of the Continental Army. He is actually portraying Washington, saying some of his famous quotes. George Washington had so many famous quotes.
He’s here for almost a week. He’s going to several schools for assemblies. He’s also going to give a service at Surfside United Methodist Church on Sunday.
Q. | Having the special guest such as the actor Collins portray Washington, especially for the main public event on Sept. 20, how does that engage audiences to learn more about this general who, against all odds, never gave up on the battlefield?
A. | We’re expecting good turnouts. We’ll also have several other people who will portray characters and we’re going to have the ringing of the bell and announcing the states in order as they ratified and signed the Constitution, and they’ll be dressed in their colonial costume.
Joel Allen is my husband; he’s going to portray Thomas Jefferson, and he’s going to ring the bell. And the Carolina Master Chorale patriotic songs. We are going to end with the singing of “God Bless America,” and they will have some musical reflections during the program.
Q. | As time marches on, what importance will the Constitution continue to bear?
A. | The Constitution is the icon of our country. George Washington said, “The Constitution is the guide, which I never will abandon.” It’s the oldest document still in active use for self-government by the people. The Constitution stands as an icon of freedom for people around the world.
This is also a time to look back at the Constitution and read it, and read all all about putting it all together.
Q. | What role do the Daughters of the American Revolution relish in touting this pivotal document and the values for which the legacy stands?
A. | The DAR has served Americans for 124 years. We’re the largest patriotic women’s organization in the world, with 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and 11 foreign counties. Our chapter has about 140 members. All across the country, people are going to ring bells for Constitution Week.