Special Observances Act


Many states make provision for programs of civic instruction keyed to one or more federal holidays, or to other specified days, weeks, or months. We have incorporated elements of all categories of state statute pertaining to Special Observances into our model Special Observances legislation.

Many states make provisions for Special Observances unique to their state. Arizona commemorates Sandra Day O’Connor, Illinois commemorates Leif Erickson, New Jersey commemorates Commodore John Barry. We encourage states to add unique civic observances to the list we provide. We restrict our list to observances linked to federal holidays, or to other aspects of national commemoration.

Model Legislative Text


The governing body of any school district or public charter school shall conduct appropriate patriotic exercises, and prepare programs of relevant civic and historical instruction that convey the meaning and significance of the day, on the day or week preceding or following these holidays:

  • Constitution Day;
  • Columbus Day;
  • Veterans Day;
  • Thanksgiving Day;
  • Bill of Rights Day;
  • Martin Luther King Day;
  • George Washington’s birthday;
  • Abraham Lincoln’s birthday; 
  • Armed Forces Day; and
  • Memorial Day.


If any provision of this chapter, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this chapter and the application of its provisions to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.

Existing State Statutes

The National Association of Scholars, in consultation with other supporters and friends of the Civics Alliance, drafted these model bills to translate into legislative language the principles in the Civics Alliance’s Civics Curriculum Statement & Open Letter. Just as these bills have been drafted with the expectation that different states will modify them as they see fit, they also have been drafted with the expectation that not every supporter of the Civics Alliance will endorse these bills or every part of them. Individual Civics Alliance signatories and supporters should not be assumed to have endorsed these bills, unless they say so explicitly.