The U.S. Constitution governs most laws and protects many rights in America.
Given the war in Iraq and the detention of suspected terrorists overseas, celebration and understanding of the Constitution is as important now as it has ever been, organizers of Constitution Day say.
"Any time in history, the Constitution is quite relevant," said Allan McKissick, speech communication instructor at Modesto Junior College.
In conjunction with Constitution Day this week, MJC is hosting a presentation Thursday by Lee Lundrigan, clerk-recorder for Stanislaus County. The event is free and open to the public.
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Lundrigan's speech will provide a link between current events and the 220-year-old document, said McKissick, chairman of the organizing committee.
The goal also is to inform people about the importance of registering to vote because many educators and election officials see low voter interest and turnout during elections.
"We want to emphasize education and registration. The prior-ity is to encourage registration, but of educated voters," McKissick said.
Lundrigan won election to county clerk in 2002. Prior to that, she was a judge pro tem in Stanislaus County for 17 years, deputy district attorney and a private lawyer.
Public schools have been required since 1997 to commemorate Constitution Day -- dubbed America's birthday -- during the week of the document's anniversary.
The county clerk's speech also is a kickoff for MJC's annual Civic Engagement Series, a program of films shown biweekly on campus to encourage political awareness and community involvement. The series usually includes thought-provoking films followed by discussion on the issues by experts.
Constitution Day attendees will be given a pocket copy of the Constitution. A two-day voter registration drive will follow.
Lundrigan's presentation will start at 7 p.m. in Forum 110 on MJC's East Campus, 435 College Ave. For more information, call McKissick at 575-6178.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.