Story by Ralph Nichols
Photos by Bryan Charles
A Freedom Shrine in Burien’s Community Center – a collection of 29 significant documents in American history presented by the Exchange Club of Highline – was formally dedicated on Thursday, Nov. 10.
These attractive photographic reproductions feature the primary documents on which this nation was established – the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Other notable Freedom Shrine documents range from the Mayflower Compact, President Washington’s First Inaugural and Farewell addresses, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address, to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, and Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.
It also includes lesser-known documents such as Virginia Gov. Patrick Henry’s 1778 letter to the commander of American forces in Illinois country, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s Christmas message to troops of the 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge, and the German and Japanese instruments of surrender that ended World War II.
“We are very pleased to have this Freedom Shrine in this beautiful facility,” said Bonnie Johnson, president of the Highline Exchange Club, which has about 30 members. “For a small organization, we do a lot of community support.”
Exchange Club member Jerry Heigh described the Freedom Shrine, which includes introduction and dedication plaques, as a collection of documents “that have been very important to the citizens of the United States over the years.”
He said the club has also placed Freedom Shrines at Highline High School, the Puget Sound Skills Center, Sylvester Junior High School, the Tukwila Activity Center, and Sea-Tac International Airport.
A Freedom Shrine Memorial Plaza placed by the Highline Exchange Club at Bonney-Watson Washington Memorial Park in SeaTac remembers members of the armed forces who are prisoners of war or missing in action.
Heigh noted that Freedom Shrines were placed in all Highline District high schools, but that some were taken down during building renovations. The club is working to locate the documents and restore those shrines.
Burien City Councilwoman Rose Clark expressed thanks to the Exchange Club on behalf of the city. “These are really, really wonderful documents,” she said. “Looking at them personalizes our history.”
Clark said her “most favorite” document is an account of proceedings in the Susan B. Anthony trial that stemmed from her crusade for women’s right to vote.
Inspired by the Freedom Train that toured the United States in 1949, the Freedom Shrine is a program of the Exchange Clubs of America.
The Burien Community Center is located at SW 146 St. and 6th Ave. SW. The complete list of Freedom Shrine documents is:
- The Mayflower Compact
- The Declaration of Independence – Jefferson’s rough draft
- The Declaration of Independence
- Washington’s Letter to Colonel Nicola
- Patrick Henry’s Instructions to George Rogers Clark
- The Treaty of Paris, 1783
- The Northwest Ordinance
- U.S. Constitution
- Washington’s Copy of the Constitution
- The Bill of Rights
- Washington’s First Inaugural Address
- Benjamin Franklin’s Epitaph
- Washington’s Farewell Address
- Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address
- The Star Spangled Banner
- Jackson’s Letter Describing the Battle of New Orleans
- The Monroe Doctrine
- The Emancipation Proclamation
- The Gettysburg Address
- Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
- The Thirteenth Amendment
- Lee’s Letter Accepting Washington College Presidency
- Account of the Proceedings of the Susan B. Anthony trial
- Theodore Roosevelt’s Letter on Cuba
- Wilson’s First Inaugural Address
- The Nineteenth Amendment
- Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech
- Letter naming Eisenhower Supreme Commander in Europe
- General McAuliffe’s Christmas Message
- German Instrument of Surrender, World War II
- Japanese Instrument of Surrender in the Pacific, World War II
- John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech