Aiken residents shook their bells at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, symbolizing the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
The Henry Middleton Chapter of the National Daughters of the American Revolution, in collaboration with the Aiken County Historical Museum, celebrated Constitution Week with various entertainment, while handing out copies of the Constitution, small bells and posters of the American flag with the Constitution's Preamble.
“This day commemorates the 226th signing of the U.S. Constitution,” said Judy Justice, regent of the Henry Middleton Chapter. “I invite you all to ring your bells and let the city in this great nation to not forget the magnitude of this great day.”
Residents were first shown a small skit between James Madison, the fourth president, and John Rutledge, the first governor of South Carolina, following the Constitution's signing.
Elliott Levy, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum, played Madison while Robert Justice, MOX quality assurance program manager, played Rutledge.
Levy, as Madison, stood and spoke to residents about the importance of the Constitution.
“It's a very important document that I think we all as Americans should read, because it's a new idea, new concept, and no one has ever done this before in the world,” Levy said. “It's about how we compromised, how we came together with this revolutionary idea. I want to thank everyone for coming out and being part of this important day.”
Justice invited the Aiken Singers to perform a medley of patriotic songs which including “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Initially, the Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned Congress in 1955 to set aside Sept. 17 through 23 as U.S. Constitution Week.
Congress later adopted the resolution and signed it into law on Aug. 2, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Justice left residents with one last thought for the commemorative evening.
“During the 118 hot, tension-filled days of the (Constitutional) Convention, most of the delegates were clear on only one thing,” Justice said. “They were setting sail unseen therefore uncharted by man. On the back of George Washington's chair was a painting of the sun just above the horizon. When the Constitution was finally signed, Benjamin Franklin rose and said, 'I have often, in the course of this session, looked at the sun behind the president without being able to tell whether it was a rising sun or a sinking sun. At length, I have a happiness to know it is a rising sun, and not a setting sun.”
The Henry Middleton Chapter and Aiken County Historical Museum will also show a docudrama, “A More Perfect Union – America Becomes A Nation” on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry St. S.W.
Those in attendance will receive a free Constitution handbook and free poster. Refreshments will be served by the Henry Middleton Chapter in the Banksia ballroom.
Founded in 1890, Daughters of the American Revolution is a nonprofit and non-political volunteer women's organization promoting the preservation of American history, patriotism and better education for children throughout American's future, according to its website.
For more information about the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit www.dar.org.
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.