The international and fundamental human truths expressed in an American symbol may be one of the best parts of the Declaration of Independence exhibit at the Utah State Capitol, officials said.

One of 25 surviving copies of the 1776 Declaration is taking a 3 1/2-year tour across the country and it is making a stop in Salt Lake City throughout the 2002 Winter and Paralympic Games. A reception in the Declaration's honor was held Thursday, just before the Olympic torch made its way to the Capitol.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the Declaration represents diplomacy, noting that it has inspired many other nations, including her native Czechoslovakia, to seek out democracy for their own people. In conjunction with the Olympic Games and its torch, the Declaration and the flame of liberty highlight the interdependence of humanity and the one truth that "in every child the full potential of the human race is reborn," she said.

"None of us have a claim on the substance of the Declaration; it's an inheritance," she said. "The underlying themes of equality, liberty and respect for individuals are timeless."

Norman Lear, who with his wife, Lyn, owns the Declaration, said his goal in touring the document, printed in 1776 by John Dunlap but only found on the back of a flea-market painting in 1989, is to encourage all people, particularly the younger population, to vote and take part in civic activism and to inspire them to "declare their own independence."

"It seems impossible to see it and not be moved," he said, again drawing a comparison between the document and the torch. "We wanted that exhibit to bring home to even the most casual observer those key words, those key phrases."

Gov. Mike Leavitt said the Declaration acts as a North Star against which the nation evaluates its progress and said he thinks the most important passage from the document is its proclamation that all men are created equal.

Bernadette Toomey, of the American Legacy Foundation, which sponsored the reception, said the host city "has an opportunity and obligation to establish the tone for the competition."

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Local businessman and philanthropist Larry H. Miller agreed, saying it "helps teach us and them (Olympic visitors) about our roots."

International Olympic Committee member Jim Easton, of Los Angeles, said he's glad the Declaration exhibit gives America a chance to feel patriotic and proud.

"I think one of the things that characterizes the Olympics is the celebration of local culture and history ? and opening the arms of the local community to the world," said Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney.


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