Countdown to the Liberty Medal ceremony in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - September 12, 2012

Thursday night's ceremony is the capstone event for the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

Hundreds of Philadelphians and a host of entertainers will be on hand to help the Constitution Center to honor Muhammad Ali.

Dozens of workers have converged on Independence Mall, where the boxing legend, humanitarian, activist and philanthropist will be honored.

National Constitution C.E.O. David Eisner says Ali is a living embodiment of the Constitution "whether that was in his boxing career, where he was a conscientious objector and fought for his right to be all the way to the Supreme Court, or whether it was his calling attention to the plight of black Americans in the 1960s."

It will be the 21st Liberty Medal handed out on Independence Mall. The National Constitution Center has bestowed the honor for the last six years.

The ceremony is free to the public. More than twelve hundred people are expected to attend, legendary entertainers and Hollywood stars among them.

"We're going to have some great stars, from Roberta Flack to Terrance Howard," said Eisner.

And Claressa Shields, who this summer became the first woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing, will present Ali with the Liberty Award.

The decision to honor Ali comes with a degree of controversy. Some will never forget or forgive his refusal to go to Vietnam. But no one can deny his tireless work as an ambassador for peace and justice worldwide.

The Liberty Medal ceremony starts at 7:00 pm Thursday at the National Constitution Center, and 6abc will broadcast it live.

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