Special Opportunities for the Public to Unlock the National Archives New Public Vaults Exhibition
Press Release · Friday, October 29, 2004

Press Release
October 29, 2004

Special Opportunities for the Public to Unlock the National Archives New Public Vaults Exhibition

November 11 Veteran's Day Sneak Preview for Military November 12 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Washington, D.C. . . The National Archives will launch the major exhibition the "Public Vaults" with a "sneak preview" for veterans and active military personnel on Veteran's Day and a grand opening celebration featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the participation of historical reenactors on Friday, November 12. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is located at the National Archives Building, Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW.

The "Public Vaults" will shine a light on the vast holdings of the National Archives. It will take visitors into virtual stack areas to experience the wonder and excitement of discovering the importance and relevance of federal records. Through films, maps, photographs, documents, and specially-designed interactive devices, visitors will hear Presidents discuss some of the country's greatest challenges, step into the boots of soldiers on the front lines, and follow an investigation of the sinking of the Titanic. Extraordinary and ordinary events reflecting the complex and colorful nature of our history will be highlighted in this exhibition.

Veteran's Day: Thursday, November 11, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The National Archives honors veterans, active military personnel and their families with an exclusive sneak peek of the new permanent exhibition, "The Public Vaults". In addition, the National Archives Museum Shop will offer a 10 percent discount to those being honored on that day.

One focus of the exhibition, Provide for the Common Defense, highlights the U.S. military. The power of the documents featured in this section of the exhibition is in the way they capture both individual heroism and collective sacrifice. Together with declassified records of strategy and tactics, they bring a human dimension to the tragedy of war. Visitors will be able to eavesdrop on the deliberations of Presidents as they faced some of the country's greatest challenges, explore newly declassified top secret documents, learn about the recruitment process and how it has changed over time, see Louis Armstrong's draft registration card and historic military recruitment posters, and experience many other extraordinary events of our history.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, November 12, 10 a.m.

Archivist of the United States, John Carlin, will cut the ribbon to officially "unlock" the "Public Vaults" and welcome visitors into the new exhibition. Historical reenactors portraying George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt will mingle with visitors until 3 p.m.

Two special guests, whose documents are featured in the exhibition, will be on hand to answer questions. John Beaulieu who wrote a letter in Braille to President Eisenhower will attend the opening. As a 6th grade student at Perkins School for the Blind in the fall of 1956, John participated in a mock Presidential campaign, playing the role of President Eisenhower. His assignment was to write his own campaign speech which he sent to President Eisenhower. Some weeks later, he received a reply from the President. Both John's letter and the President's reply are featured in the exhibition.

The exhibition also includes L.J. Weil's original 1943 letter (at age 12) to President Roosevelt offering to serve as a Marine mascot. He even invited Roosevelt to visit his home in Louisiana "if you get tired up there in Washington" but insisted that the President bring his own ration book. Mr. Weil will also attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The public is welcome to attend the event

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The National Archives Experience is being made possible by a public-private partnership between the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives; all National Archives Experience programs are free and open to the public. National Archives Building, located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW.

For PRESS information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or (202) 501-5526.


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