As the new Newseum was being planning on prime real estate between the Capitol and the White House in Washington, D.C., Freedom Forum CEO Charles Overby wondered if his big idea of having the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution displayed prominently would ever happen. He envisioned two possible obstacles.

“Sometimes architects think you work for them,” said Overby, a seasoned journalist and former director of Baptists Today, upon receiving the news journal’s annual Judson-Rice Award April 22. Then he wondered if building-design watchdogs in D.C. would allow what might be seen as a big sign. In both cases, he heard good news.

The architect’s rendering of a 74-foot-high marble engraving of the First Amendment that would face Pennsylvania Avenue pleased Overby very much. And how could anyone in the nation’s capital consider the guiding and protecting words of the First Amendment to be out of bounds?

The popular Newseum — First Lady Michelle Obama told Conde Nast Traveler magazine that her daughters sure enjoy going there — has much to remind Americans about freedom.

Overby said that some might think that bringing the words “news” and “museum” together would result in boredom. But the place is fascinating, interactive and ever-changing.

Within the seven-layers of exhibits are 14 theaters including a 4-D time travel adventure, a large section of the Berlin Wall, a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty, an impressive gallery related to 9-11, the largest collection of Pulitzer Prize photographs ever assembled, an interactive newsroom (where you can be filmed as a reporter), the Unabomber’s cabin, Tim Russert’s office (including his baseball collection) and, yes, even Elvis is in the house.

A visit to the Newseum should be a part of any visit to the nation’s capital. And, daily, wherever we are, we should be grateful that our nation’s founders gave us these 45 words to protect freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

Here they are:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

[Photos from top to bottom: Front of Newseum; Overby welcomes Baptists Today directors and staff; communications tower from atop World Trade Center; Tim Russert’s baseballs]

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