Escorted by an entourage of armed service members and military personnel, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in an armored vehicle to their final resting place in Washington, D.C.'s, National Archives building.
For nearly five decades, the two documents, along with the Bill of Rights, were enshrined in a helium-sealed glass case in the building's rotunda. Over the years, tens of millions of tourists have lined up to see the famous handwritten papers, which gave birth to our nation more than 200 years ago.
On July 4, 2001, the trio welcomed their final visitors at least for awhile. A few days later, they were transported to a secret laboratory for a historic makeover.
There, a staff of conservators, or experts in the care of old documents, carefully examined each document letter by letter. They used special glue to secure any loosened flakes of ink. They repaired old tears and erased dirt and other substances.
In September 2003, the historic documents returned to the newly renovated rotunda, where they once again went on public display. They rest in air-tight metal cases that are illuminated with fiber-optic lighting.
Now safely encased for generations to come, the U.S. Constitution remains as powerful today as it was when the Founders first penned it two centuries ago.
"Here's a document that's over 200 years old and only four pages long," says Lee Ann Potter, head of education and volunteer programs at the National Archives. "It set up a government that still works. It's the longest-lasting national constitution in the world. It's remarkable."
For more information about Constitution Day, visit the National Constitution Center's Web site at www.constitutioncenter.org.