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History, DOE Team for Holiday Specials

The History Channel is partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to create and produce special programming celebrating national holidays.

Currently, three of the half-hour documentaries, which will air on the network and on The History Channel Classroom, are being produced to explain the history behind Veterans Day, to air this November; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, slated for January; and Labor Day, to premiere in September 2004.

History will also distribute tapes of the documentaries to teachers throughout the country, and develop supporting educational materials.

If deemed successful, History executives said three more specials surrounding Independence Day, Columbus Day and Memorial Day would be produced in 2005.

Additionally, History will air a President's Day special in 2004, produced by Calliope Films Inc.

The programs will incorporate movie clips and well-known celebrities to tell uniquely American stories.

The costs of producing the shows were not disclosed, but sources said the network is footing the lion's share of the bill.

A&E Network executive vice president and general manager Dan Davids — who made the announcement last week along with Secretary of Education Rod Paige — said in a statement that the programs will help portray national holidays as more than just a day off for most workers.

"We will create compelling and entertaining programs and support materials that make the meaning of the holidays — and the people, events and sacrifices they represent — come alive in new and exciting ways that will have great impact on people today and for future generations," said Davids.