Considering the controversy surrounding the birth of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, it appears our commission and foundation are squarely in the spirit of the Bicentennial commemoration, stirring debate on how best to pursue meaningful citizen involvement.
Readers who might be puzzled or disturbed (Letters, Sept. 1) about Bison tennial Ben, a fanciful mascot enlisted in a serious cause, can be assured that the foundation agenda does indeed support more conventional educational resources in its programs and policies.
Teachers look to us for material to augment their civics classes, such as a simplified explanation of the Constitution (English and Spanish), and endorsement of school packages designed by outside educators. "201 Trivial Questions About the Constitution," described as a bicentennial footnote, is more of a learning experience than a trivia game.
America's most populous state doesn't have the direct historical connection enjoyed by folks back East, so California's commemoration becomes a springboard not only for patriotic celebration, but also for thoughtful examination of the American future to which California contributes so much.
In that connection, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin's achievement placing the first flag on the moon reminds us of the pioneering spirit of the framers, who ventured into new dimensions of self-government.
The Bison tennial Ben Disney contribution, created by an organization that knows something about combining education with entertainment, becomes another bridge to reach young minds with a message of involvement: Reading and signing the Constitution can be entertaining and meaningful.
The foundation has distributed 200,000 copies of the Constitution, and 140 California communities are enrolled in formal bicentennial activity recognized by the state Bicentennial Commission.
The foundation, serving as a resource base for this grass-roots observance of the bicentennial, is focused on simple objectives: get a copy of the Constitution into the hands of every Californian, encourage citizen participation through a public "sign-on" campaign running through November, and sponsor events and programs that inject an educational quotient into the celebration.
As for trivializing, we look to former Chief Justice Warren Burger's comments when asked about questions of Constitution commemoration. He said, "I'm just glad they're talking about it."
Director of Communications
California Bicentennial Foundation
for the U.S. Constitution