Here’s a word for you – semiquincentennial.
What’s that mean?
Well, in 2016 the U.S. Congress chose semiquincentennial as the commemorative name for the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
“This Act may be cited as the ‘‘United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act of 2016’ – Congress finds that July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States, as marked by the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the historic events preceding that anniversary – (1) are of major significance in the development of the national heritage of the United States of individual liberty, representative government, and the attainment of equal and inalienable rights; and (2) have had a profound influence throughout the world.”
Given the events of January 6 last year and ongoing disunity across America, you can only wonder if we can all come together again in four years to celebrate our national birthday.
The many who believe it is time once again to revolt and throw off the yoke of government cite parts of the Declaration to justify their beliefs. They miss, or deliberately overlook, the very first words: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.”
The key word is “unanimous.” The Declaration goes further in that opening sentence to say “one people,” not some people.
Here’s another tongue twister – bicenvicenquinquennial.
Well, this September we should be celebrating it, the 225th birthday of the United States Constitution, that other essential founding document for our nation.
You may recall its original Preamble begins in extra large letters, “We the People.” Again, the emphasis is “we,” not “some of us” or even “most of us.”
The Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution back on that 200th anniversary in 1987 established something called the Center for Civic Education. It still exists, though you probably haven’t noticed lately (see www.civiced.org).
Some teachers in Mississippi have. The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has promoted the center’s Project Citizen program. A number of Mississippi leaders participated in the center’s Civitas International exchange program several years ago. Otherwise, civic education withered as a public concern for many years.
The legislature doesn’t seem interested, ignoring proposed civics education bills. Since 2018 Sen. Kevin Blackwell of Southaven and now for two years Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula have introduced bills to require civics education in schools. An attempt last year by 11 state representatives to require the MDE to develop a civics curriculum failed.
Of course there is no reason to re-invent the wheel? The Center for Civic Education developed an outstanding curriculum called “We the People.” Years ago Mississippi State University helped introduce the program to 5th grade teachers.
It remains a remarkable, and now timely, resource.
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." – 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.