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.
BEFORE YOU START
The Freedom Shrine is a project that requires substantial funding. The Freedom Shrine plaques are available from Exchange’s National Headquarters and are available in two sizes: a small 19-plaque display and a large 29-plaque display. Upfront costs to purchase these plaques are $600–$900. Hosting a fundraiser specifically to fund this project or having a budget line item for these costs is critical. Many Exchange Clubs have also found successful funding through community businesses sponsoring the Freedom Shrine. Clubs may also consider asking the American Legion, local VFW, or similar organization to assist with the funding and presentation.
STEP 1: DISCOVERY
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 course of several years, Freedom Shrines are installed in all schools within the community. The chosen recipient will need a large indoor area of wall space to display the Freedom Shrine. The 29-plaque display requires an area 4′ x 28′ 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 Freedom Shrine in a local park, or a portable Freedom Shrine.
STEP 2: COORDINATE WITH THE RECIPIENT
Coordinate with the recipient of the Freedom Shrine. Set aside the entire day prior to the dedication ceremony for the installation, which may require a team of 4–6 volunteers. If the installation is taking place at a school, the Exchange Club may 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 National Headquarters, as well as a great guide to help with this process.
STEP 3: INSTALLING THE DISPLAY
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. 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 preplan 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.
STEP 4: HOLDING THE CEREMONY
A dedication ceremony is important to get everyone excited about the Freedom Shrine. If installing the Shrine is 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 emcee, etc. For a school setting, these roles might be filled by former students. Invite local dignitaries to attend the ceremony, and be sure to 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 suggestions.
STEP 5: PUBLIC RELATIONS
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.