“We have the greatest nation in the world. To remain free we need to continually look at where it is we came from,” guest speaker Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Johnson said at the Freedom Shrine Dedication ceremony at the Round Lake Village Hall Thursday morning.
The Freedom Shrine, a collection of original historical America documents photographically reproduced, is available to local residents as a reminder of what Americans’ freedom is based upon. The Round Lake Exchange Club recently dedicated the shrine in the Round Lake Village Hall, as Grayslake Exchange Club members looked on.
“The documents are the bricks of thought that help define the nation that we defend,” said Judy Armstrong, Round Lake Exchange Club president.
The 20-piece display includes photographs of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Star Spangled Banner, the Nineteenth Amendment, The Bill of Rights and The Gettysburg Address, among others.
“It reminds us of what our county is about and for a non-military person like me, it reminds me of my citizen duty. We take for granted the privilege of voting and we mustn’t,” Armstrong said about the significance of the Freedom Shrine.
Johnson said he was humbled to have been able to serve. “I appreciated what I was able to do. Hopefully I helped further many of these values,” he said about his recent tour in Afghanistan and the core principles of the U.S.
Cynthia Lee, member and district director of Division 2, said the shrine’s impact is far reaching. “It’s very educational for the community," she said. "Sometimes we forget our values.”
Mike Oster, Exchange member and division 1 director, said the shrine reinforces America’s core beliefs. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You have to go back to basics,” he said.
The Freedom Shrine is a concept that was embraced by The National Exchange Club following the Freedom Train, which consisted of vets touring the nation in 1947 carrying an exhibit of historic documents.
During the event Johnson was awarded Round Lake’s first Defender of Freedom Award.
Armstrong said that one can see the time the writers of the displayed documents took through the various editing marks on the pages, which is a testament to how carefully the words were chosen.
“How often does the average citizen read these documents?” she said.
Lisa Rusch, Exchange Club Freedom Shrine chairman, said placing the shrine in the Round Lake Village Hall on the wall facing where board sits during meetings will provide helpful reminders of their purpose.
“When they make their decisions this is what they have to look at,” she said.
She said she was very happy with the dedication event’s turnout. “We had a great mix of people,” she said, which included chaplains, surrounding towns’ government officials and other Exchange Club members.
The Grayslake Exchange Club along with other clubs has placed Freedom Shrines at Carmel High School, and the , among other places.
Exchange is an all-volunteer service organization for men and women with 700 clubs and approximately 28,000 members throughout the Unites States and Puerto Rico.
The Grayslake Exchange Club meets every Thursday, 12 p.m. at , located at 30 N. Whitney Street. For more information visit exchangeofgrayslake.org.