Tuesday marked the 226th anniversary of the day on which the members of the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. Sept. 17 is now celebrated throughout the United States as Constitution Day.

Constitution Day has an interesting history. In 1939, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst advocated, through his chain of newspapers, for a day to celebrate U.S. Citizenship. In 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as "I am an American Day." In 1952, President Truman moved the holiday to September 17 and changed the name to "Citizenship Day." Congress renamed the holiday "Constitution Day" in 2004.

The 2004 law mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on Sept. 17, or on an adjacent day should the 17th fall on a weekend.

The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County encourages voters to gain a better understanding of our Constitution and the rights it affords us. It is essential for Americans to remember the key ideals such as responsive government, individual liberties and the separation of powers, especially an independent judicial branch. It is our responsibility to teach those lessons to future generations, and also to ensure our leaders are actively protecting the basic civil liberties Americans have fought to obtain.

The LWV has worked to protect rights provided by the U.S. Constitution through its "Safeguarding U.S. Democracy" program-an educational campaign focused on addressing the critical issues facing the judiciary at the local, state, and federal levels.

The League also continues to monitor and advocate for open government at all levels through the "Citizen Initiative for Transparency." The Montgomery County League's local Observers Corps regularly attends the meetings of twenty-four city and county boards, councils, and commissions.

Anyone who has not yet registered to vote is encouraged to do so this week. With all the important issues facing Montgomery County, Indiana and our country, each of us needs to get involved to keep our democracy strong and truly representative of the people.

Nationally, the League has served tens of million of voters, many of them young people and first-time voters, through the award-winning nonpartisan election resource www.VOTE411.org. The site is a "one-stop-shop" for election related information, providing state specific information about voter registration machines, absentee ballot information, election dates, polling place locations, ID requirements, and more.

Information about voting is also available on the local League website www.lwvmontco.org.

As we find new ways to gather input, citizens must adapt and make their voices heard. The League will continue to promote civil discourse, and balanced, nonpartisan civic education.

By getting involved and encouraging informed and active participation in government, League members across the country have worked to safeguard American democracy for more than 90 years.

Constitution Day reminds us that all Americans have a voice and role in working to "form a more perfect union," and that citizens must continue working together to find the best solutions to the new challenges we face.