“Out of Many, One”: Citizenship and the Constitution

September 17, 2014

September 17 is Constitution Day, thanks to the efforts of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd, who always carried a copy with him on and off the floor of the Senate. Last year, I blogged about the various editions of the Constitution available as Government publications. This time around, I’ve been thumbing through another publication that helps to put the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and a variety of other documents, speeches, and even songs and poetry, into the bigger picture of what it means to be – or become – an American citizen.

The Citizen’s Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States, a handsome and very useful little book from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services correctly states that “both native-born and naturalized citizens will find important information on the rights and responsibilities associated with United States citizenship.” It’s an extremely useful collection of songs (The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, God Bless America), poems (The Concord Hymn, I Hear America Singing, The New Colossus), symbols (the Great Seal of the United States, including an explanation of that impressive but somewhat mystifying “pyramid with an eye in it” device), complete texts or extracts from notable American speeches (the Gettysburg Address, John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream, Ronald Reagan’s Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate), notable Supreme Court decisions (Marbury v Madison, Brown v Board of Education) and much more.

Although the complete text of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other documents are not included, the brief sections on each put them into context so readers can perceive the continuum of American democracy through time. For new and aspiring citizens, a series of brief biographies of famous Americans who were not born in the U.S. makes for interesting reading. In the entertainment world alone, how many of us think of Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, and Celia Cruz in their roles as citizens of the Republic?

The Citizen’s Almanac is a terrific, well-illustrated source for all kinds of information about American history and citizenship. It’s also an interesting read and a book that’s perfect for Constitution Day or any other day when you need information about this country of ours. You can browse through The Citizen’s Almanac here, buy a single copy or a package of 25 for schools and civic organizations, or locate it at a library.


In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publication, you may find this publications from the following:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this and other print publications related to citizenship (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Writer and Marketing Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by James Cameron, former Government Book Talk Editor in support of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

Notable Documents 2009: Walter Reed

May 27, 2010

School kids used to learn that, in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, Walter Reed helped to discover that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes. Many of us have heard of “Walter Reed Hospital” as a place where for many years Presidents and wounded warriors alike have received medical care. What I didn’t realize is that Major Reed died only a year after he left Cuba. His friend Major William C. Borden, head of the Army General Hospital, was so devastated by Reed’s death that he worked for years to raise funds for a new hospital to be named after his friend. Walter Reed General Hospital opened in May 1909 and, as Walter Reed Army Medical Center, celebrated its centennial last year.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial: A Pictorial History, 1909–2009, one of Library Journal’s 2009 Notable Government Documents, provides both text and photos of this remarkable institution. Of course, the emphasis is on the treatment of armed forces personnel, not Presidents; the latter appear as visitors, not patients, as do Bill Cosby, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Bob Hope (twice) and others. The real focus is on regular GI’s being cared for and undergoing rehabilitation. I was interested to learn that occupational therapy was a part of Walter Reed’s activities from its earliest days. Some of the photos are grim, depicting the struggles of seriously wounded GIs to regain use of their limbs or learn to use prosthetic ones. There are also numerous shots of construction as Walter Reed expanded over the years.

The verdict: A part of military history that all of us should remember, far from the parades and worth thinking about as we approach the Memorial Day weekend.

You can find Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial: A Pictorial History, 1909–2009 here, or locate it in a library here.

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