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As the new year dawns, it’s a time to contemplate not only resolutions but also anniversaries. 2013 happens to be packed with them—the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 45th anniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy to name a few—so why not start early? One of this year’s biggest commemorations recognizes the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which will be celebrated throughout D.C. with exhibits, lectures, and plenty else. The National Archives kicks off the proclamation’s sesquicentennial by displaying the original document in the building’s East Rotunda Gallery. Early morning visitors get a chance to interact with the document even more when noted musician and scholar Bernice Johnson Reagon reads the proclamation and offers an interpretation for a new generation. It’s a chance to gain some historical perspective that these days seems especially imperative.

Bernice Johnson Reagon reads the Emancipation Proclamation at 9 a.m. at the National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 357-5000. archives.gov.