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In a Mount Vernon exhibit, George Washington, his hand on a Bible, is sworn in as president
Meet some interesting characters at Montpelier.
Man of the house: Colonial games, music and fireworks are all part of a grand celebration at Montpelier on Saturday.
At George Washington's Birthplace, step back in time with Colonial crafts and get your chance to sign the Constitution.
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Constitution Day isn't the sort of occasion that gets great attention, save among members of the Federalist Society or devotees of James Madison, one suspects.
But 2012's anniversary will bring significant celebrations to Virginia--at Mount Vernon, Montpelier and George Washington's Birthplace.
Mount Vernon will herald the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by unveiling George Washington's annotated copy of the Acts of Congress.
The rare volume garnered global attention this summer when it was sold, breaking auction records for an American historical document.
At noon Monday, it will go on view in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, where it will remain through the national observance of George Washington's birthday on Feb. 18, 2013.
Bearing the first president's handwritten notes, the well-preserved book includes Washington's copy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other legislation passed by the first session of Congress.
With it will be--exhibited for the first time together--Washington's first draft of the Constitution, which displays his handwritten notes recording the Constitutional Convention's handling of each proposed clause.
The documents will provide "an unprecedented view of history in the making, through the mind and actions of America's first president," Mount Vernon says.
Washington presided over the convention and its drafting of what the National Archives calls one of America's "Charters of Freedom." Without him, it's unlikely the fractious states would have mended their differences--or perhaps convened the meeting at all.
Celebrating the Virginian's successes in fighting to establish our country and determining the shape of our government will be front and center Sunday at Washington's birthplace on the Northern Neck.
From noon until closing, the national monument on Popes Creek will hold programs for all ages to mark Washington's great achievements.
At noon, children will read
Visitors are invited to test their knowledge of the Constitution with trivia, games and puzzles to earn a Constitution Day certificate. They can also sign the Constitution with a quill pen in the Visitor Center and see exhibits on the founding document.
And most of the day, the volunteers of the monument's 4-H Heritage Club will demonstrate Colonial crafts such as hearth cooking and blacksmithing.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the home of James Madison--"father of the Constitution"--will bustle with more than the usual bevy of events to note the anniversary. Throughout the afternoon, enjoy musical acts, including the U.S. Navy Band Commodores, a stellar jazz ensemble.
Visitors will see dramatists portraying James and Dolley Madison. There will also be Colonial games, tethered balloon rides, food, fireworks and costumed interpreters from McLean High School's Project Enlightenment.
If you're comfortable on horseback and want a unique way to reach Montpelier, sign up for Orange County's first Liberty Ride, which will benefit parks and recreation programs.
Visitors, following an 11-mile trail, can arrive via horseback or horse-drawn wagon. Or come at noon to watch James and Dolley arrive in their carriage.
Liberty Ride tickets are available at Orange County Parks and Recreation website, bit.ly/LibertyRide.More: bit.ly/pip57
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029
Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens: George Washington's Fairfax County estate is at the southern end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Admission fee. 800/429-1520; mountvernon.org.Montpelier: James Madison's estate is in Orange County. $10 per car or $5 per car for Orange County residents. montpelier.org, 540/672-2728. Washington's Birthplace: National monument is in Westmoreland County, on State Route 204, two miles off State Route 3, 38 miles east of Fredericksburg. Free. 804/224-1732, ext. 227; nps.gov/gewa.