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1776 Declaration of Independence

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1776 Declaration of Independence

Just days before the nation turns its eyes and ears to Nashville for the presidential debate at Belmont University on October 7, Cricket Communications Inc, a leading provider of unlimited wireless services, in association with Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan youth voter initiative, will give Nashvillians a rare chance to experience U.S. history up close.

The wireless company is bringing a rare, original copy of the Declaration of Independence to Nashville for public viewing October 4, 5 and 6 in the Nashville Public Library Downtown Branch, located at 615 Church Street.

The document, which is one of 25 surviving copies printed on July 4 and 5, 1776, will be on display at Nashville’s downtown library the following times and dates. Admission is free.
•    10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 4
•    2 to 5 p.m. on October 5
•    9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 6
Nashville is the final stop of the Cricket Wireless Declaration Road Trip on a nationwide tour stressing the importance of exercising the right to vote.

“Nashville is very fortunate to have been selected to host one of the most important documents in our nation’s history,” said Jane Hutson, Cricket area general manager. “With the Declaration’s visit coinciding with the 2008 Presidential Debate at Belmont University, there will be a lot of excitement in the air. We hope to leverage this excitement and register thousands of voters so that their voices can be heard on Election Day.”

The only copy of the Declaration of Independence currently touring the country, the document coming to Nashville belongs to Declare Yourself founder and Hollywood producer Norman Lear. Lear purchased the Declaration of Independence at auction for $8.14 million after it was discovered in 1989 hidden behind a framed painting purchased at a flea market.

Cricket is encouraging middle and high schools to visit the document Oct. 6. Teaching materials preparing classes for the public viewing have been provided to metro schools.

Actors portraying historical figures Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Adams and Abigail Adams will be at the library performing educational skits and interacting with the public who come to view the Declaration of Independence. Visitors will also be able to watch an informative video hosted by actress 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 will be set up to educate visitors about the importance of voting and voicing their opinions. Visitors will be able to cast their vote in real voting machines loaned to the effort by the Metro Nashville Election Commission. 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.

“We don’t want visitors to just stare at a piece of paper,” said Hutson. “We have taken great measures to make history come alive and ensure that everyone leaves with an entertaining and educational experience.”

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. WKDF 103 FM, Cricket’s media partner, will also offer voter registration at events in Nashville through Oct. 6.

“The goal of this historic 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 Hutson. “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.”

About Cricket
Cricket is a simple, affordable wireless service offering consumers and local businesses a flat-rate unlimited service over the latest technology, high-quality, all-digital CDMA2000 1X and 1xEV-DO wireless network. Designed for customers whose basic and advanced wireless needs have not been met by traditional communications companies, Cricket is the pioneer of unlimited services with no long-term commitments or credit checks required. Cricket offers customers access to a variety of the latest devices and feature-rich mobile applications such as unlimited text, instant and picture messaging, Mobile Web, popular games, ringtones and wallpapers.  For more information on Cricket, visit Cricket services are offered by Leap Wireless International, Inc., headquartered in San Diego, Calif. For more information on Leap, visit