The Freedom Shrine is an impressive display of a collection of historic document replicas that serves to remind all of us of the great efforts that have been taken to ensure our freedom. The Freedom Shrine originated with the Freedom Train that toured the nation in 1947 carrying an exhibit of historic documents. It serves as an educational tool in schools, and as a motivational display in public arenas.
The freedom Shrine is a project that requires substantial funding. The Freedom Shrine plaques are available from the National Exchange Club Supply Department. There are two sizes of displays-a small 19 plaque display and a large 29 plaque display. Upfront costs to purchase these plaques range from $600 to $900 dollars. Having a fundraiser specifically to fund this project or having a budget line item for these costs is critical. Another idea is to go out to a business in your community and ask them to sponsor the Freedom Shrine. Consider asking the American Legion, local VFW, or similar organization to assist with the funding and presentation.
Use a committee to canvas the community for a worthy recipient. Schools and public buildings are great locations to install freedom shrines. Many clubs make the effort to ensure that over the years Freedom Shrines get installed in all schools in their area. The chosen recipient will need a large indoor area of wall space to display the freedom shrine. The 29 plaque display takes up an area 4 feet x 28 feet in size (or similar square footage). This can be broken down to have the display on multiple walls in the same area if necessary. Finding a location to fit the entire display is an important first step. If funds allow, consider installation of an outdoor Shrine in a local Park or a portable Freedom Shrine.
Coordinate with the recipient of the Freedom Shrine. Communicate, Communicate, And Communicate. Plan a day prior to the installation ceremony to install the Freedom Shrine as this can take an entire day to assemble with a crew of 4 to 6 volunteers. Organize an installation ceremony for the Freedom Shrine. If installing in a school consider having some sort of essay contest or other competition to get the students and faculty more involved with the project. A “Milestones of Freedom” quiz is available through the National Exchange Club. Your National Exchange Club headquarters has a great guide to help you along in this process.
Have a dedication plaque made to install within the field of the Freedom Shrine Plaques. This will show everyone that Exchange is responsible for the display. It can also be used to give recognition to a business sponsor of the Freedom Shrine if you have one. Plaques can be hung directly on a wall or a nice wood display backing can be built to house the Freedom Shrine. Be sure to pre-plan the layout of the plaques for the area you have to work with to ensure they all will fit. Many schools will want you to coordinate with their maintenance department for proper installation in the dedicated area. Ensure that your committee members work closely with them as they set up the display.
A dedication ceremony is important to get everyone excited about the Freedom Shrine. If installing the Shrine in a school, ask the principal to make this a special presentation by holding an assembly for the entire student body. Plan a guest speaker, an anthem singer, an MC, etc. For a school setting these might be a former student who has gone on to a career in public service or someone in the military. Invite local dignitaries to attend the ceremony when possible. Make sure you include the Pledge of Allegiance and an Invocation at the beginning of the event. The Freedom Shrine plaques come with very helpful guides to help run the installation and include sample speeches and other great ideas. And have a good time doing something good in your community!
Do not forget inviting the media to come take film and pictures of the ceremony. It is good for getting the word out about Exchange and what you do for your community.