What happens to the Constitution when zombies attack?

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Though it fell short of Monsters University's domestic figures, Brad Pitt's zombie apocalypse epic World War Z earned $118 million at the global box office and posted the largest opening weekend of any original live-action film since Avatar.

If you were one of the many who have already found time to see World War Z, you might remember that—during the scene when Pitt and his family board an aircraft carrier in a safe zone—you see U.S. military forces moving the Constitution and, presumably, the Declaration of Independence, onto the ship.

After seeing the film, the folks at New York magazine reached out to an expert in the matter to ascertain what would actually happen to ensure the safety of America's sacred documents should the undead rise and attack, devouring human flesh and laying waste to the country's infrastructure.

Unsurprisingly, there's a plan in place, but you're not allowed to know about it.

We posed this question to David Ferrier0, who, as Archivist of the United States, oversees the National Archives, where the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights — what are known as the Charters of Freedom — are displayed and stored.

"We do have a plan, BUT I'd have to kill you if I told you," Ferriero joked. Seriously, though, he added, "security arrangements for the Charters are not public."

Not all of the precautionary measures are state secrets, though.

Line of defense No. 1: the "Charters Vault." In 1953, during the Cold War, a "Charters Vault" was built and installed at the National Archives. "At the closing of the building each night, the documents and their protective display cases were lowered into the vault," according to Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940. "This was also done in the event of a nuclear attack."

Even further, though, a 1992 piece from Time indicates that, at least at one point, the plan was to get everything into a bunker in Virginia that would function as one of the government sites in the event of a nuclear attack. The whole scenario offers an interesting twist to the questions that would arise in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Fingers crossed Pitt's still around to try to save humanity. [NY Mag]