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April 01, 2009   Email to Friend 

History Lives in Alabama
jeff Helms

Walking up Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, visitors to the capital city can't help but feel they're tracing the timeline of history. Here, Martin Luther King completed his march for civil rights in the shadow of the spot where Confederate President Jefferson Davis took his oath of office. Just down the street, the soulful ballads of Luke the Drifter still echo through the halls of the Hank Williams Museum, while a few blocks away children and adults marvel at the courage and tenacity of Rosa Parks at her museum.

Families don't have to visit Montgomery, however, to appreciate the state's rich heritage. From the Apollo rocket and Miracle Worker in north Alabama to the Tuskegee Airmen and Horseshoe Bend in the south, Alabama's landscape unfolds like the pages of a history book.

To celebrate these treasures, Gov. Bob Riley has proclaimed 2009 the "Year of Alabama History." The campaign heralds Alabama as "A Place Woven into the Tapestry of American History" and includes a new 94-page brochure, a vacation guide and a Web site complete with photos, video and biographical information of famous Alabamians.

"Our state is blessed with landmarks associated with our Native American history, the struggles during the War Between the States, the sites made famous during the Civil Rights Movement and the leaders that developed our cities," reads Riley's introduction to the brochure. "Touring historic Alabama is guaranteed to be an educational and rewarding experience."

"Historic Alabama: A Guide to Landmarks and Events" gives readers insight into the history of some 163 towns and cities across the state and features more than 700 museums, events and historically significant sites, from north Alabama to the Gulf Coast. Old Alabama Town in Montgomery is featured on the front cover while the back cover depicts a scene from the "Miracle Worker" at Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia.

The Alabama Tourism Department, the Department of Archives and History, the Alabama Historical Commission, local convention and visitor bureaus and museums and attractions around the state are partnering to promote the "Year of Alabama History" to students, residents and tourists.

"We have some great stories to tell and some extraordinary people to tell about," said Ed Bridges, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. "Visitors can come to experience such events as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County, or to learn about events that brought about monumental changes in the nation's voting and civil rights laws."

The first stop for tourists, students and lifelong residents who want to learn more about Alabama history is the Year of Alabama History Web site, yearofalabamahistory.com. Visitors will find an interactive timeline and biographies of well-known Alabama natives like Hammerin' Hank Aaron, Nat "King" Cole and Paul "Bear" Bryant. There's also an education section where teachers can access interesting facts about the state.

The site highlights more than 230 events that celebrate Alabama's history and heritage as part of the 2009 tourism campaign. Historical attractions listed on the site include the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House in Florence, Huey Helicopter in Enterprise, Alabama Constitution Village in Huntsville, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Aliceville Museum containing German P.O.W. items, 1915 Dothan Opera House and the Mardi Gras Museum in Mobile. More than 450 history-related attractions are listed on the site.

"This mini Web site is an excellent tool for tourists, teachers and students to learn more about our state's history, and it's a valuable online tool for travelers planning a trip to Alabama in 2009," said state tourism director Lee Sentell. "Teachers and students will find itineraries to help plan student field trips and tours, and travelers will find events and attractions to visit on their next vacation."

Special emphasis is also being placed on historic attractions and museums in the 2009 Alabama Vacation Guide. A companion piece to the vacation guide, the 2009 Alabama Calendar of Events, highlights more than 1,600 history-related events and festivals.

The "Year of Alabama History" is the sixth in a series of award-winning marketing campaigns designed to attract tourists to the state's destinations.

For more information, visit the Alabama Tourism Department Web site, www.alabama.travel or call 1.800.ALABAMA (252-2262).


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