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Reagan and Burger Lead Salute to Constitution

September 17, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan saluted the Constitution, "our blueprint for freedom," on the eve of its 200th birthday and led thousands of children Wednesday in the Pledge of Allegiance at a colorful celebration of American citizenship.

As former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger read the Constitution's preamble, many of the children gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol joined him in reciting it, beginning with the ringing, "We, the people of the United States."

Stock Trading Halts

At the New York Stock Exchange, trading halted briefly in the afternoon, and workers waved American flags on the trading floor. In Boston, workers took off their hard hats, dropped their tools and joined Reagan in the televised pledge. Congress temporarily adjourned for the ceremony and hundreds of federal workers were given an extra 90 minutes on top of their usual one-hour lunch to attend.

"We're a part of history," said Holly Maultz, 16, one of 108 pupils who recited the pledge a half-hour before Reagan on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, in Pennsylvania for an overhaul.

A star-spangled spectacle cranks up in Philadelphia today, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, with a parade, picnic, presidential speech, international bell-ringing ceremony, show business fanfare and fireworks. Hundreds of descendants of the Founding Fathers arrived Wednesday, along with chief justices from each of the original 13 states.

Hand on his heart, Reagan recited the pledge Wednesday, and moments later red, white and blue balloons were released over the Capitol at the tribute, called "A Celebration of Citizenship."

'Blueprint for Freedom'

"Times have changed, but the basic premise of the Constitution hasn't changed," Reagan said. "It's still our blueprint for freedom."

"All of us have an obligation to study the Constitution and participate actively in the system of government that it establishes," he said later. "And there is no better time than right now . . . to rededicate ourselves to the Constitution and the values it contains."

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