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DETROIT-Get ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the business that changed the face of this country.

As the U.S. auto industry reaches its 100th year in 1996, the American Automobile Centennial Commission and its sponsors-the Big 3 and the UAW-plan a yearlong national celebration.

Thirteen vehicles produced by Frank and Charles Duryea in 1896 made up the first automobile production run in the U.S.

"Automotive technology really led America into the 20th century," said Harold Skramstad, a centennial commission trustee and president of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich. "1996 is an opportunity to build on the traditions of the last 100 years and look forward to the next 100 years."

Centennial programs include:

"America on Wheels," a three-hour prime-time PBS documentary set for next spring.

An education program that will communicate the documentary information to 15 million students in grades five through 12.

Public service announcements for TV and radio.

There will be a formal Centennial Gala dinner here June 22.

Through its Partner Programs, the centennial commission is encouraging local and national organizations to plan centennial events. So far, 67 programs have been planned in 18 states.

"The automobile industry has shaped our concept of what it means to be an American," said Keith Crain, chairman of the centennial commission board of trustees and vice chairman of Crain Communications Inc., publisher of Advertising Age and Automotive News.

Automotive News will publish the Automotive News American Automobile Centennial in two special issues next year.

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