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WVU Band will perform in Washington for Constitution Day

ImageWest Virginia University???s ???Pride of West Virginia??? Mountaineer Marching Band will provide the Washington, D.C. soundtrack to the country???s first full-out observance of the day that celebrates the U.S. Constitution.

???The Pride,??? housed in the College of Creative Arts, will perform 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, in Upper Senate Park, across Constitution Avenue from the U.S. Capitol, Director of Bands John Hendricks said.

???The band is very proud and honored to be performing in Washington on this historic day,??? Hendricks said. ???We have a lot of proud alumni and supporters in the D.C. area, and we love showing off our University, our State and our musical talents. And, most importantly, this day is about marking history.???

History, with a decided West Virginia connection.

Constitution Day was meant to celebrate the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the document by which this country is governed, but it had fallen into obscurity over the generations ??? so much so, in fact, that the holiday doesn???t even appear on most calendars today.

Enter U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

Byrd, who carries a copy of the document in his breast pocket daily, is known in Washington circles and to C-SPAN viewers as a formidable constitutional scholar. Last year, he fathered the law passed by Congress designed to give a little heft to the all-but-invisible holiday.

As his communications director Tom Gavin said: Byrd was growing more worried about a country whose citizens know more about ???American Idol??? ??? than American government.

The law requires that every one of the country???s 1.8 million or so federal employees receive educational materials about the Constitution, and that every school that receives federal funds, including colleges and universities, present a program or event on the document on or around the holiday.

Because Sept. 17 falls on a Saturday, many events are planned in the days before and after.

In addition to the Constitution Day Concert, the 375-member WVU Marching Band will perform at College Park noon Saturday for the WVU-Maryland football game; and Saturday night in Martinsburg between 9:30-10 p.m. for the 27 th Annual Martinsburg High School Band Spectacular.

Friday???s 45-minute concert in Washington will feature traditional pre-game and halftime music and a selection of patriotic tunes such as ???Stars and Stripes Forever??? and ??? America, the Beautiful???. The Pride will also perform an armed forces salute, which includes hymns from all branches of the service, Jay Drury, assistant director of bands, said.

Many alumni, friends and fans are expected to be on hand, he said.

On Monday, Sept. 19, WVU will host a Constitutional forum at 1 p.m. in the Lugar Courtroom at the College of Law, moderated by WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr.

Serving as panelists are Phylissa Mitchell, WVU professor of journalism; John Kilwein, WVU professor of political science; and WVU College of Law professors John Taylor and Robert Bastress.

* Mitchell will discuss the Constitution from the perspective of media and the working press;

* Kilwein will the cover the ways the Constitution continues to provide checks and balances for American government, even into the 21 st century;

* Taylor will talk about the Constitution and the place it takes in the separation of church and state; and

* Bastress will address the individual freedoms afforded by the Constitution.

A question-and-answer session will follow, with a reception in the College of Law???s lobby. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will also be broadcast via the Web to the Potomac State College of WVU campus.