It was Patrick Henry who proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Not many of us know that this states- man also said that “no free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people without a frequent recurrence of fundamental principles.” It is this latter statement which is so appropriate to the dedication / rededication of the Freedom Shrine here today.
The Freedom Shrine fills the need Patrick Henry described. This Shrine is a constant reminder of the fundamental principles upon which this great nation was founded. It is a reminder of our continuing struggle to insure these principles against the enemies of freedom. The words of these documents echo our great American history and the best thing we can derive from history is the enthusiasm it raises in us.
The Freedom Shrine serves its purpose only when attention is directed to it continuously. We cannot allow such an inspirational display to become merely an attractive part of the school scenery. The Freedom Shrine best fulfills its function when it is used regularly in class work and is made the focal point of school-wide patriotic observances.
We are here today to emphasize the message of encouragement these documents hold for students, faculty and the general community. Before you leave today, pause and examine this Freedom Shrine. As you read the documents you will be reliving your country’s history. You will catch a glimpse of the spirit of the times, the greatness of the people who wrote the words and the ideals which inspired them.
These immortal words are writings of people who carved out our precious American way of life — a way of life which we all too frequently take for granted today. Do not forget the victories won for you by Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Reflect, remember and renew your pride in our God-given American heritage.
Through the Freedom Shrine you will gain an understanding of the sacrifices and hardships involved in the increasing struggle to win and preserve our freedom. These papers will familiarize you with the evolutionary problems of our democratic government, which through its dedication to liberty and justice makes our republic the hope of the world.
The Freedom Shrine, exclusively a project of Exchange Clubs, was conceived in the hope and belief that it would serve as a living symbol of the rich heritage of freedom under God shared by all Americans. The security and destiny of every nation rests chiefly on the sound education of its people. Therefore, it is the wish of The National Exchange Club that the Freedom Shrine impresses upon all citizens, particularly our youth, that this heritage is theirs — not merely to enjoy, and certainly not to squander — but to strengthen and enrich so that succeeding generations will inherit an even finer legacy. It is our sincere belief that the Freedom Shrine is an empowering reminder of the duties and responsibilities of American citizenship as well as its rights and privileges.
We are here today, not so much to dedicate/rededicate the Freedom Shrine itself, but to rededicate ourselves to the principles for which it stands. The Freedom Shrine is our country’s greatest visual aid in the statement of our fundamental principles which, as Patrick Henry said, is so necessary for the preservation of free government and the blessing of liberty. The Freedom Shrine is here to help you understand these principles. Make frequent use of it.