- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2002

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. The next big celebration of 2002 will be Martin Luther King Day, followed by Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day and then, of course, Liberty Day.
You know, Liberty Day that day when elected officials and other community leaders go into school classrooms to talk about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. All the kids get copies of the Constitution, too.
It's been happening every March 16 since, well, 2001.
Liberty Day isn't exactly a venerable national tradition on the order of the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. Its organizers say that all the day needs is a little publicity a few television spots featuring how about the president of the United States? and who knows? Maybe by next year, department stores will be running Liberty Day sales.
Thanks to the surge of patriotism since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the timing for a national day of celebrating our founding documents couldn't be better, said Andy McKean, the energetic former teacher who spearheads the 5-year-old Liberty Day movement.
"I don't want to lose this energy we have right now," said Mr. McKean, a Lions Club member who has worked with Lions and other service groups to push Liberty Day. "I want everyone to make such a big deal of the founding documents that kids can't help but get interested. This is a way of uniting the country."
It's already a recognized federal celebration, adopted by Congress last year. At the time, Mr. McKean had hoped to launch Liberty Day with a presidential send-off, but with the disputed 2000 election still fresh in everyone's mind, he said, the timing wasn't right.
This year, organizers are hoping to persuade President Bush to give the day his seal of approval by filming a nonpartisan public-service spot with former President Jimmy Carter promoting the celebration.
Ideally, the two presidents also would encourage other elected officials and other role models to go into the classrooms that day to discuss the founding documents with middle and high school students. Of course, one could argue, those students already learn about the Constitution in school, but Mr. McKean says it's not enough.
"Kids don't see the relevance of this, and they're bored with it," he said. "The key is getting elected officials and really great role models, like athletes, entertainers, people kids look up to, to say, 'This is the most important document you'll ever read in your life, and you need to know what's in it.'"
The Liberty Day project has printed up hand-held copies of the Constitution to be passed out to students.
"We'd ideally like kids to bring them home with them," said Mr. McKean. "The idea is to make it a family affair. If these documents are to be read and understood, you've got to do more than teach them in school."

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