This Thursday, what is being called the world's longest letter will be rolled out on the Mall. Actually, it's some 4,000 letters, attached one to another. All were written by third- and fourth-graders and all are addressed to President George W. Bush.
Arranged in rows of two, the letters will stretch for a half mile between Seventh and 14th streets. Each one expresses the writer's concerns and hopes for our country.
The kids tackled some really big issues: War. Violence. Homelessness. Equal rights. The environment. Health care.
Chioma Okwara, 10, of St. Matthias Apostle School in Lanham, touched on several of these issues in her eight-sentence note. She said in an interview that her letter came "from my heart. I care about people and I think the world should be a better place."
The World's Longest Letter project was the idea of the Pilot Pen company and the National Council of Teachers of English. This spring, they invited one school from each state and the District to take part. In our region, the schools were St. Matthias, Cleveland Elementary in Northwest Washington and Falling Creek Elementary in Richmond, Virginia.
Students from those schools will be on the Mall on Thursday morning to see their letters briefly on display (the unfurling is set for 11:30). News that the TV show "Good Morning America" will do a segment from the Mall earlier that morning has the kids buzzing.
The letters have been reproduced on a vinyl runner, so the ink won't run if it rains. Project organizers hope to give the letter to the Smithsonian Institution.
But it doesn't end there. The longest letter keeps growing, thanks to the Internet. If you would like to add your thoughts to a cyberletter to Mr. Bush, go to worldslongestletter.com and click on "What would you tell the President?" Make sure it's okay with your parents first.
-- Marylou Tousignant