The Freedom Shrine
"The heritage of the past is the seed which
brings forth the harvest of the future."
This is the underlying principle and purpose of the Freedom Shrine … to put before young Americans proof that the freedoms and greatness we enjoy today were not purchased easily … and to remind them that these gifts must be cherished and protected.
The Freedom Shrine, sponsored by the Madison Exchange Club, is a collection of significant original documents from American history that are exact photographic reproductions. The display includes the Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This permanent display allows the public to see the hand of humanity behind these famous documents in a way that is not possible with transcriptions or electronic copies.
More than 12,000 Freedom Shrines have been dedicated in schools, military installations and government buildings since the program began in 1949. The Madison Exchange Club has installed nine Freedom Shrines which can be seen at ► Town Campus ► Memorial Town Hall ► Academy Elementary School ► Dr. Robert Brown Lower Middle School ► Walter Polson Upper Middle School ► Daniel Hand High School ► Our Lady of Mercy School ► Elisabeth Adams Middle School in Guilford ► St. Rita School in Hamden.
On April 26th 2010, the Madison Board of Selectmen officially proclaimed May as Freedom Shrine Month. In addition, the Freedom Shrine at Town Campus was rededicated as a permanent home for our Past Presidents plaque. Accepting the honor on behalf of the club is Bill Lawlor who along with Tony DaRos, put in long hours to reconfigure the Freedom Shrine.
Town Campus Rededication, May 2010
L-R standing: Ashton Edwards, Tony DaRos, Bill Lawlor, First Selectman Fillmore McPherson
L-R kneeling: Past President Mary Minshall, President Thomas Tung
Memorial Town Hall, Madison
Academy Elementary School, Madison
Dr. Robert Brown Lower Middle School, Madison
Walter Polson Upper Middle School, Madison
Daniel Hand High School, Madison
Our Lady of Mercy School, Madison
Elisabeth Adams Middle School, Guilford
St. Rita School, Hamden
Facts About the Freedom Shrine
The Freedom Shrine was inspired by the Freedom Train, a traveling exposition of historic American documents which toured the United States shortly after World War II. In 1949, the Exchange Clubs of America, by unanimous resolution, agreed to install permanent displays of the best of these historical documents in communities throughout the nation so that Americans of all ages would have access to their rich heritage.
Of the Freedom Shrine documents, only the first… The Mayflower Compact… was written before the concept of such a thing as the United States of America was even conceived. But because it illustrates that the seed of eventual American freedom was carried to these shores by its very earliest settlers, it is considered part of our American heritage.
In many communities, the Freedom Shrine has been integrated into American History courses and is utilized as an invaluable reference for students seeking access to authentic historical American documents.
To increase the value of the Freedom Shrine to American students, The National Exchange Club has published the complete texts of each document. It is believed that the Freedom Shrine Documents Text Book currently represents the most authentic reprinting of these original documents.
Although the Freedom Shrine is an exclusive program of the Exchange Club, the presentation of a great many Freedom Shrines has been cosponsored by hundreds of individuals and businesses, including some of our nation's leading corporations.
In 1987, three new documents were added to the Freedom Shrine; the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" Address and Kennedy's Inaugural Address. Then in 1996, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech and the Account of the Proceedings of the Susan B. Anthony Trial were also added.