Freedom Shrine dedicated at Oakbrook Middle

  • Monday, May 26, 2014

Monica Kreber/Journal Scene The Freedom Shrine now sits inside Oakbrook Middle. Pictured are Gary Leonard, secretary of the Charleston Exchange Club, Oakbrook seventh grade vice-principal Brandon Pitcher, Donald Allen from the Club’s board of directors, Donnie Pitts from the board of directors and Americanism Committee, and Charleston Exchange Club President George Rauton.

Students might see a slight change of scenery at Oakbrook Middle School inside one of the hallways.

This hallway is completely decked out in 31 different, authentic, United States historical documents. The collection of documents is called a Freedom Shrine, and includes notable U.S. documents such as the Bill of Rights, the Monroe Doctrine and the Declaration of Independence.

The Freedom Shrine is provided by the Charleston Exchange Club. Members gathered on May 23 to celebrate the unveiling of the Shrine, and were joined by members of the school’s Beta club as well as Brandon Pitcher, vice principal of the seventh grade.

The purpose of the Shrine is to “remind all Americans that their freedom is a result of the hard work and determination of our forefathers,” according to the National Exchange Club.

The Charleston chapter members assembled the shrine on May 22.

Donald Allen, on the club’s board of directors, said he would like to see students checking the shrine out whenever they get a chance.

“It’s a program of ours to install it in as many schools as possible,” he said.

Oakbrook Middle is not the only school to have a Freedom Shrine in DD2. Other district schools include Fort Dorchester High and Alston Middle.

“Five hundred years ago our ancestors had no idea what freedom was,” Allen said, adding ideas did not start coming about until the 17th century. “A lot of those ideas were written down, and they’re on this wall.”

Pitcher said he is excited about the shrine.

“It’s a prime example of the way things work,” he said. “When things are put together cooperatively the end result is usually pretty positive.

“We find it fitting to have it in this nice, wide hallway that students often pass through,” he added.

In 1949 the National Exchange Club agreed to install permanent displays of the country’s most significant historical documents in communities throughout the nation. George Rauton, president of the Charleston Exchange Club, said he has helped install close to 40 Shrines in schools since 1983.

“It shows the true history of our country,” he said.

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