Exchange Clubs dedicate Freedom Shrine in new council chambers
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Tuesday afternoon, four clubs joined together to dedicate the Freedom Shrine inside the Copperas Cove city council chambers.
The Freedom Shrine was donated by the Copperas Cove Exchange Club, Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove, Exchange Excel Club of Copperas Cove High School, and the Exchange Excel Club of High School United Teen Service of Copperas Cove.
Joyce Hauk, the Americanism Director for Exchange Club of Copperas Cove, talked about the significance of the Freedom Shrine, a collection of 20 historic documents from American history, ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, to the Bill of Rights.
“For nearly all of us, this precious gift of freedom has come free of charge, but for others, there has been a price. The men and women in our armed forces are one example of how some people dedicate a part of their lives to protect our freedom,” Hauk said, also referring to first responders during her remarks.
“This is one of the reason why the exchange clubs of America nearly 50 years ago decided to assemble what we call the Freedom Shrine. We wanted to bring these important documents for all to see, to remind one and all how freedom was actually earned for us.
“It is more than just documents hanging in neat rows behind me. Take the time to look at them; look into our nation’s past. Perhaps the most important message this freedom shrine brings to us is the great debt we ow to thousands of Americans who fought for and won the freedom we enjoy today.”
Hauk then introduced Coryell County judge John Firth who spoke, specifically addressing the young people who were present for the dedication ceremony.
“This is really all about you. When the Exchange Clubs decided to do this originally, decades ago, it was to try to ensure some of the most important documents in our nation’s past could be accurately and appropriately displayed so that everybody could learn and make sure we continue to honor the great documents of freedom and liberty this country was built upon,” Firth told the students.
He referred to documents throughout our nation’s history, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the constitutional amendment which gave women the right to vote.
“Patrick Henry, when he made his comment, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ in that same speech, he talks about the only way we can ensure freedom and liberty are perpetuated, is that everybody revisit and rededicate to the liberty and freedoms that we have been given. We are truly the oldest living democracy in the history of the world, that truly gives freedom and liberty to everybody.”
Firth told the students that the process of freedom is still ongoing in our country.
“We are still struggling with dotting all the I’s and crossing all the t’s, what’s happening on NFL playing fields these days. And the reason I say we’re all dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s, is this is all still something in progress in terms of ensuring liberty and freedom for everybody. Whether its in the NFL or the schools, or your learning in your own homes, the more that we can learn about what happened in the past, the more we can dedicate ourselves toward ensuring the true freedom and true liberty is given to everybody forever.”
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.