Exchange Clubs dedicate Freedom Shrine at County Justice Center
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Tuesday afternoon, the Copperas Cove Exchange Club and the Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove gathered to dedicate a new Freedom Shrine inside the Coryell County Justice Center on South 1st Street in Copperas Cove.
The Freedom Shrine was donated by both Exchange Clubs and is a collection of 20 historic documents from American history, ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, to the Bill of Rights.
The ceremony was led by Mike Blount, the Freedom Shrine Chair of the Noon Exchange Club. The shrine’s plaque was unveiled by both Ira Brand and Joyce Hauk, presidents elect of the Copperas Cove Exchange Club and Noon Exchange Club.
Monday’s dedication was held on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, the date in 1787 when the Constitution was ratified.
Blount commented on the significance of the date for the new Freedom Shrine dedication.
“We don’t celebrate Constitution Day as we probably should,” Blount said. “it’s just as important as the 4th of July.”
The Hon. Trent Farrell, judge of the Coryell County 52nd Judicial District Court, served as the keynote speaker for the dedication ceremony.
Farrell talked about how easy it is to take for granted the gift of freedom.
“That gift, which because we were born Americans, we received automatically, without asking,” Farrell said, adding that for nearly all of us, the gift of freedom has come free of charge, paid for by thousands of Americans who have sacrificed their property and their very lives, all in the pursuit of what still eludes millions of people on the planet today, which is human freedom.
He spoke of the history of the Freedom Shrine, which was especially for the benefit of young Americans for whom freedom comes “automatically, as soon as they are born.”
“If you look hard at these documents, study them understand them, use your imagination, these plaques become transparent. They magically turn into wonderous windows through which you can clearly see way back through the centrueis deep into our nation’s past,” Farrell told those present for the ceremony. “It’s a past filled with adventure and drama, filled with heroes and heroines who are larger than life. The history of our nation is more than just names and dates, old-fashioined faces wearing beards and bonnets, it’s the fascinating story of human triumph and failures, of sweat and sacrifice, of an unflinching determination of fighting for a dream come true.”
Among the documents he pointed to were the Mayflower Compact, as well as the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, which he said “may well be the most important selection of words put on paper by the hand of man.”
In the late 1940s, the Freedom Shrine had its start via a train which traveled throughout the country, stopping in communities to show copies of the country’s historical documents to citizens. The Freedom Shrine as it is now was developed by Exchange Clubs nationwide to ensure the documents could be seen in all communities. Presently, all government buildings in Copperas Cove have a Freedom Shrine, as do campuses in Copperas Cove ISD.