Constitution Week recognizes John Marshall’s contributions to American government

Caroline Kimbro, Reporter

Marshall University’s annual Constitution Week kicks off on Monday to commemorate and educate students on the influence of the United States Constitution and John Marshall’s contribution to the American form of government.

Dr. Alan Gould, director of the John Deaver Drinko Academy, said U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd created Constitution Week to highlight the document underlying our system of government.

Gould said, “Included within federal legislation passed in 2004 was a provision requiring educational institutions that receive federal funds to set some time aside on or near the Sept. 17 anniversary of the document’s signing to study the United States Constitution.”

President Jerome Gilbert said Byrd was a tremendous supporter of and advocate for the Constitution.

“Byrd carried a copy around with him at all times in his vest pocket, he would pull out the Constitution,” Gilbert said. “That was his passion, that people need to understand it. The American people need to read it. It’s not very long – understand it and embrace it as the basis of our government.”

Gilbert said the 2004 legislation produced a new set of events dedicated to celebrating and educating students on the backing of American freedom.

“It was put in the Omnibus Budget Bill that year that it be a requirement and at that point, the schools that had not been covering Constitution Week started programming,” Gilbert said. “I think it has produced a very interesting set of programs at every campus, in that people in a lot of ways had taken for granted our Constitution and what it means for our system of government.”

Gilbert said while the Constitution is the central feature of our governmental system, it is often undervalued.

“Really our system of government is based on the Constitution and without it, or without its being there, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms and all of the checks and balances in the system that we have, which is the beauty of the American government system,” Gilbert said. “And so to me, our Constitution is a tremendous asset in this country and one that we need to recognize as being the foundations of all the things that we enjoy and sometimes take for granted in our system.”

Gilbert said Constitution Week at Marshall also provides an opportunity to connect students with the intertwining history of John Marshall’s life and the United States’ founding.

“I’m a big fan of the founding fathers, I’m a big fan of the constitution. Certainly, John Marshall defined the judicial branch and he looked at the constitution as something that we should revere, as well as Byrd,” Gilbert said. “So I think it’s great that our students are exposed to things related to the Constitution and are related to the history of this university and John Marshall and his role in interpreting the Constitution as a Chief Justice. I’m very, very grateful that we have such a structured week and tying it to John Marshall I think is a great way to sort of embrace both the founding fathers, John Marshall, and the Constitution all in one celebration that goes on for not just one week, but several weeks.”

Ginny Painter, Senior Vice President of Communications, said Constitution Week includes many engaging events.

“The quoits tournament is really popular and fun,” Painter said. “You know with the students, that and the birthday cake are probably the most popular.”

Marshall’s annual Constitution Week will include a quoits tournament, lecture on civic responsibility, and birthday cake ceremony.

Caroline Kimbro can be contacted at [email protected]