The Exchange Club of Killeen sponsored a Freedom Shrine dedication at the Eastern Hills Middle School on Dec. 5.

After Club President Lawrence Holly welcomed the crowd of students, community leaders and Exchange Club members, the ceremony began with the playing of the National Anthem by the trumpet section of the EHMS Symphonic Band.

Dick Young, former member of the Killeen City Council and Exchange Club district president-elect, was the featured speaker. He explained the history and meaning of the Freedom Shrine.

Young said the Freedom Train, a traveling exposition of historic American documents that toured the U.S. shortly after World War II, inspired the Freedom Shrine. In 1949, the National Exchange Club agreed to install permanent displays of the most significant historic documents in communities throughout the nation so all Americans would have access to their rich heritage.

In several schools

The Killeen Exchange Club followed suit locally by placing the Freedom Shrine in all schools and other public buildings, Young said.

“There are 18 documents in this display being dedicated today that express what America and freedom are all about,” he said. “We have entrusted it in this place of honor in your school. We hope that history teachers use them and that all of you will take time to stop and read or even touch these documents. They are amazing.”

One of the latest documents added to the collection was former President Ronald Reagan’s speech where he said, “Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down these walls!”

In response to the dedication, EHMS Principal Jamie Blassingame thanked the Exchange Club and mentioned that among the crowd gathered were representatives of the student council, National Junior Honor Society and Builder’s Club.

“I was touched by a statement in a brochure presented to me by the Exchange Club which read, ‘The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.’ That’s our goal as educators,” Blassingame said.

Plaque unveiled

The ceremony closed with the unveiling of a plaque that will be displayed as part of the Freedom Shrine.

“This wall shows how much our country has progressed and what the Founding Fathers did for our country,” said Cameo Jones, eighth-grader and president of the EHMS student council.

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