Wall rededicated at Veterans Hall 32 American documents featured
Freedom Shrine – a collection of 32 framed replicas of historic American documents serving as windows to America’s past – shines once again after it was rededicated at the Porterville Veterans Memorial Building on Wednesday during a regularly-scheduled American Legion Post 20 meeting.
Originally dedicated during the 1996-1997 year, the collection had been put away due to remodeling.
Following the preliminary announcements, hand salute, and the Pledge of Allegiance, Mike Smith, American Legion Post 20 Commander, welcomed everyone to the meeting.
“We will be doing a short program to re-dedicate the Freedom Wall,” Smith said. “Our friends in the Exchange Club are here for this.”
The Porterville Exchange Club has made it their mission to get the collections – which include replicas of the Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, The Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, President Washington’s first inaugural, and his farewell, speeches; The Emancipation Proclamation, John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not…” speech, and more.
The Porterville Exchange Club has made it a mission to get the collections to as many places as possible, including many high schools in Porterville, said Eddie Hernandez, second in command at the Exchange Club.
“You have to understand our pride of our Constitution and way of life,” said Eddie Hernandez of the Exchange Club just prior to the start of the meeting. “They’re not cheap documents. They cost more than $2,000 for the set. But we feel it’s important all of our high school students are familiar with the documents.”
Prior to the Exchange Club’s presentation, Summit Collegiate High School Choir Director Donna Steigleder directed the choir through three numbers, starting with The National Anthem and ending with an invitation for everyone to sing along to “My Country, ‘Tis of thee.”
And after the three guests were escorted to the front by Allen Pundt, Sgt. At Arms, Hernandez talked of how sacred the honor is.
“We’ve been doing this for now, over 60 years,” Hernandez said. “The Freedom documents are sacred documents and we have placed them in every high school in town to share with our youth.”
When guest speaker Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend was introduced, he talked of how impressed he was with the documents the first time he heard of them, and even more impressed after seeing them at the Porterville Military Academy.
“I asked for them and they agreed to donate to us,” Townsend said about a donation to the county, adding due to remodeling, they must wait a few months. “Ours will be a smaller version, due to having a smaller wall. We’ll have 20 installed around October.”
Townsend went on to say the Freedom Wall covers much of what he wishes he would have taken more time to learn about when younger.