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Tunstall Army Junior ROTC Cadets Restore Freedom Shrine:

Cadets of the Trojan Battalion Army Junior ROTC program at Tunstall High School recently replaced the Freedom Shrine which has been missing since the school renovation began in 2009.  The Freedom Shrine is a collection of over thirty facsimiles of key documents from the history of the United States.  Local chapters of the National Exchange Club provide shrines to schools, government buildings, and other public places.

According to the organization’s website, “The National Exchange Club is the only service organization exclusively serving communities in the United States. More than 650 local clubs throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico provide individuals with opportunities to use their time and talents to benefit their local communities and the country as a whole.  The Exchange’s Vision is “A strong America, safe communities, and unified people.” The Mission is “Exchange, inspiring communities to become better places to live.””

The Freedom Shrine collection includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the inaugural addresses of several Presidents, and Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech.  The oldest document is the Mayflower Compact of 1620.  Except for a few documents, the original Freedom Shrine was lost during the renovation, but with the help of Mr. Ralph Lawson, a member of the Martinsville Exchange Club, a replacement was made available using one that was removed from the old Liberty Fair Mall in Martinsville.

Mr. David Bandy, the Tech instructor at Tunstall, installed plywood backs for the plaques and an outline of the Liberty Bell for the Exchange Club sign.  Mr. Bandy has special interest in the project.  His father was a veteran of World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  One of the documents in the Shrine is General Anthony McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas letter to the troops surrounded at Bastogne.  The letter describes his response to the German demand for surrender, and his famous one-word reply, “Nuts,” boosted the morale of the troops and strengthened their resolve to continue fighting.

The Shrine has been mounted in the JROTC/ English wing of Tunstall High School where it will be used by both departments.  Mrs. Adrian Nester’s Advanced Placement English writing classes were the first classes to use the shrine for their study of key documents.   “Citizenship in American History and Government” is a key component of the Army Junior ROTC curriculum and the study of these documents is an important part of the Junior ROTC mission “to motivate young people to be better citizens.”  The Freedom Shrine is once again readily available for use by all the students at Tunstall High School.


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