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World War II Veteran Cuts Ribbon For National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center today marked the opening of the groundbreaking, new exhibition Fighting for Democracy: Who is the "We" in "We the People"? with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring World War II veteran Domingo Los Baños, the only living individual of the seven featured in the exhibition. Los Baños served as a member of the First Filipino Infantry Regiment during the war, assigned the dangerous task of mopping up enemy soldiers who refused to surrender.

Paying homage to ordinary Americans with extraordinary legacies, Fighting for Democracy immerses the visitor in the real-life experiences of a diverse group of seven Americans who bravely fought for equality, freedom and justice overseas and at home during the World War II era. To bring these compelling stories to life, the Center has paired a must-see, multimedia exhibition from the Japanese American National Museum with an original, world premiere theatrical production. This innovative exhibit-theater hybrid connects powerfully to current debates about immigration, citizenship and civil rights in America. Fighting for Democracy: Who is the "We" in "We the People"?, is FREE with museum admission and runs from October 14, 2011 - January 16, 2012.

Fighting for Democracy is presented by the National Constitution Center in partnership with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, an educational program of the Japanese American National Museum, and is funded in part by the U.S. Army Center of Military History. The traveling exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of The Boeing Company.

Fighting for Democracy places the visitor in the World War II era through a uniquely personal perspective. The 5,500-square-foot exhibition offers a hands-on, up-close understanding of seven Americans and their struggles for equal rights:

Héctor García, a willfully determined Mexican American who as a young man hitchhiked 30 miles to attend medical school. He later founded the American G.I. Forum to fight against segregation and inequality.

Hazel Ying Lee, a Chinese American who tenaciously pursued her dream of flying, a dream unattainable to many women at the time. She proved her mettle by serving her country as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Carl Gorman, a Navajo punished as a child for speaking his native language. Undeterred, he later saved countless American lives as a Navajo Code Talker.

Domingo Los Baños, a member of the First Filipino Infantry Regiment who fearlessly snuck behind enemy lines to uncover valuable information. He later became a teacher to mentor schoolchildren on the values of camaraderie, teamwork and compassion.

George Saito, a Japanese American who sought to prove his loyalty to the United States by volunteering for service in the Army while his family remained incarcerated in the Amache concentration camp in Colorado.

Frances Slanger, a Jewish American woman whose unyielding desire to help others led her to become a nurse. After aiding many wounded soldiers in need of aid, she became the first American nurse to die in Europe.

Bill Terry, an African American who joined the Tuskegee Airmen program after being denied service as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps due to his race. He would be denied the right to vote for 50 years for a crime he didn't commit.

"I was privileged to fight alongside many Americans of every color and creed who believed in the promise of democracy, and I realized that American democracy is not a finished concept but is always evolving and changing," said United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Chairman Emeritus, Japanese American National Museum Board of Governors. "All of us, especially our young people, need to understand and believe that we can change historic inequities for the betterment of all."

By integrating an acclaimed traveling exhibition from the Japanese American National Museum with an original live theater production, Fighting for Democracy pushes the boundaries of the traditional museum experience. Visitors can view scrapbooks containing replicas of photos and immigration documents; read reproductions of newspaper articles, telegrams and letters; and watch documentary films. At the heart of the exhibition is an intimate performance space in which the three-actor production takes place several times each day, featuring a racially diverse cast of actors portraying various characters. Created collaboratively by the National Constitution Center and some of Philadelphia's top professional theater artists, the 30-minute live performance explores how the concept of "We the People" has been challenged, revised and expanded throughout American history. A 10-minute discussion about diversity, identity and equality follows each show.

The National Constitution Center has a long tradition of presenting theatrical productions as a way to connect audiences to history and the Constitution, and is acclaimed for its use of theater in the museum space, particularly through its Signature Productions Freedom Rising and Living News.

"Fighting for Democracy engages audiences in ways that are personal and immediate and that transcend the traditional museum experience," said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. "By giving voice to these seven individuals through theater, we hope to inspire a visceral connection with their bravery, their choices, and their legacies."

Performances occur at the following times:

Monday-Friday
10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

Saturday
10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.

Sunday
12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.

When performances are not taking place, the space will feature a multimedia presentation including interviews with leading voices in Philadelphia's multicultural community. On Saturday's visitors can also engage with representatives from local partner organizations, who will lead gallery talks.

In addition to the innovative use of theater, Fighting for Democracy incorporates cutting-edge technology. Guests have the opportunity to engage with iPads to discover the post-war legacies of each of the seven individuals thanks to a new Fighting for Democracy iPad app. Created by the National Constitution Center, with original content from the Japanese American National Museum and with the assistance of the Drexel University School of Education, the app explores the issues and causes dearest to Héctor, Hazel, Carl, Domingo, George, Frances and Bill, and the ways in which their courage and sacrifices foreshadowed the civil rights and women's movements. The Center's app will now be a permanent component of the Japanese American National Museum's Fighting for Democracy exhibition as it continues to tour the country. In the Reflection section of the exhibition, guests also can add response cards to a special timeline wall, conveying their reactions to the stories and expressing their personal commitments to fight for democracy.

Admission to Fighting for Democracy is FREE with regular museum admission of $12 for adults, $11 for seniors ages 65 and over, and $8 for children ages 4-12. Active military personnel and children ages 3 and under are free. Group rates also are available, and groups can book the Fighting for Democracy theater experience in advance. For ticket information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.

Promotional partners for Fighting for Democracy include: The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Arden Theatre Company, Filipino American National Historical Society, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Keswick Theatre, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Multicultural Affairs Congress (a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau), National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and Wilma Theater.

The National Constitution Center thanks the following for generously underwriting the production of Fighting for Democracy: The CHG Charitable Trust, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Dorrance H. Hamilton, William M. King Charitable Foundation, Macy's, National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program, Team Clean Inc., Verizon Foundation, Wyncote Foundation.

CBS 3 and The CW Philly are the official media partners of the exhibition. CBS 3 (KYW-TV) and The CW Philly 57 (WPSG-TV) are part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.

Located on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center is America's first and only nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the U.S. Constitution. As a cutting-edge museum, national town hall and educational facility, the Center illuminates constitutional ideals and inspires acts of citizenship through must-see multimedia exhibitions, live performances, timely public programs and dynamic educational resources. The museum dramatically tells the story of "We the People" through more than 100 interactive exhibits, films, photographs and rare artifacts; the stirring theatrical performance Freedom Rising; and the iconic attraction Signers' Hall, featuring 42 life-sized bronze statues of the Founding Fathers. As America's town hall for constitutional dialogue, the Center regularly engages political leaders, scholars, pundits and journalists of diverse viewpoints. The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education and provides exceptional civic learning resources both onsite and online. For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.


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