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Governor, First Lady, Dr. Fisher Welcome Declaration of Independence to Tennessee

Cricket Communications Sponsors Visit of Historic Document on Display at Downtown Library Oct. 4-6
DOIfisher2.jpgGovernor Phil Bredesen, First Lady Andrea Conte and Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher welcomed a rare, original copy of the Declaration of Independence to Tennessee during a press conference today in the Grand Reading Room of the Nashville Public Library’s downtown branch.
The document – on public display through October 6 in the library, 615 Church Street – was brought to Nashville by Cricket Communications Inc, a leading provider of unlimited wireless services, in association with Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan youth voter initiative. The arrival in Nashville of America’s founding document has been timed to coincide with the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate at Belmont University on Tues., Oct. 7.
“I am honored to welcome the Declaration of Independence to Nashville for public display,” said Bredesen. “With the 2008 Presidential Election drawing closer and the Presidential Debate at Belmont University just days away, I hope the presence of this historic document will help stir our patriotic spirit and inspire all Tennessee voters to let their voices be heard in November.”
“These are the kinds of things we were dreaming about when we first heard that the debate was coming to Belmont, a celebration of democracy. It’s an honor for Belmont University to be included in such a historic event,” said Dr. Bob Fisher, Belmont University president. “The Declaration of Independence reminds us of the noble principles our country was founded upon and puts in perspective the many reasons why the Presidential Debate at Belmont University on Oct. 7 is so meaningful.”
Nashville is the final stop of the Cricket Wireless Declaration Road Trip 2008 on a nationwide tour stressing the importance of exercising the right to vote. It will be on display in the art gallery of the Nashville Public Library’s downtown branch the following dates and times. Admission is free.
• Sat., Oct. 4: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT
• Sun., Oct. 5: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. CDT
• Mon., Oct. 6: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT


One of only 25 remaining copies of the original Declaration of Independence printed on July 4, 1776, and the only copy currently touring the country, the document visiting Nashville belongs to Hollywood producer and Declare Yourself founder Norman Lear. Lear purchased the historic document at auction for $8.14 million after it was discovered in 1989 hidden behind a framed painting purchased at a flea market.
Actors portraying historical figures Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Adams and Abigail Adams also participated in the press conference. The five historic figures – four founding fathers and one “founding mother” – will be at the library during the Declaration of Independence’s stay in Nashville, performing educational skits and interacting with the public who come to view the document.
“We have taken great measures to make history come alive and ensure that everyone leaves with an entertaining and educational experience,” said Chere Heintzmann, Cricket regional vice president.
Visitors will also be able to watch an informative video hosted by actress and Nashville native Reese Witherspoon, a descendant of one of the original signers of the document, explaining the history and contemporary relevance of the Declaration, and a short film produced by Norman Lear and Rob Reiner featuring a powerful theatrical reading of the Declaration of Independence by actors Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Spacey, Michael Douglas, Edward Norton, Winona Ryder and Benicio Del Toro.
In addition, voter registration tables and voting booths run by Cricket employees will be set up to educate visitors about the importance of voting and voicing their opinions. Using real voting machines loaned by the Metro Nashville Election Commission, visitors will be able to cast their vote for president, favorite historical figure portrayed during their visit and favorite ice cream flavor. Of course, these ballots will not be official, but the experience will certainly be real – and Cricket plans to release the results of this straw poll to the public immediately prior to the presidential debate.
Middle and high schools have been encouraged to visit the document Oct. 6. Teaching materials preparing classes for the public viewing were provided to metro schools.
“The goal of this event is to educate our youth about the importance of voting and to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view this remarkable document,” said Heintzmann. “We hope that visitors will not only develop a better understanding of the document’s historical significance, but also realize how it relates to them in our current time.”
The Declaration of Independence’s visit to Nashville is part of Cricket’s yearlong voter registration campaign. The wireless company has registered more than 600 voters in Middle Tennessee through an in-store initiative that began in May. Cricket customers and anyone else visiting Cricket stores in Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville can register to vote in the upcoming presidential election through Oct 3.

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