What other nation on earth, asks the U.S. congressman, has a national flag that is so adaptable to change? Speaking at the dedication of the Freedom Shrine at Apex Middle School on Friday morning, Price noted that Old Glory didn’t always have 50 stars.
“I don’t know of any other flag in the world that was designed to change,” said Price. “Some of us are old enough to remember when we didn’t have 50 states. There were only 48 stars on the flag.
“(Change) symbolizes the fact that our democracy has continued to grow through the years. We didn’t become all we are all at once. Our country has grown and developed and our flag has reflected that.”
The story of America’s growth and the many changes it has undergone are vividly captured in the 28 documents that comprise the Freedom Shrine.
From the Mayflower Compact and Declaration of Independence to speeches by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the shrine is a collection of historical documents photographically reproduced and displayed in a main corridor at the school.
The Exchange Club of America sponsors the national project as a way to remind students that freedom has been achieved through great personal sacrifice by countless men and women. Several local elected officials and various civic leaders attended the dedication along with the entire Apex Middle student body.
Swift Creek Exchange Club President Angie Stafford told the students they were all recipients of a very precious gift.
“It is the gift of freedom,” said Stafford, who teaches at West Lake Middle School. “We don’t think a lot about it and we take it for granted. But a price had to be paid for that freedom.
“Thousands of Americans have sacrificed all they have in pursuit of freedom. The men and women of the armed forces are an example. The Exchange Club began the Freedom Shrine so young people could see how it was earned.”
Stafford told the students that they would eventually become responsible for maintaining the nation’s freedom.
She encouraged each student to read the documents and research their importance in America’s history.
“You live in a country where you are free to make choices,” said Stafford. “We hope you will be appreciative and that your children and your children’s children will have the same freedoms.”
Amateur historian and Exchange Club member J.C. Knowles also stressed to the students the importance of understanding the sacrifices made for freedom.
“We can still hear the battle cry of Patrick Henry, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’” said Knowles. “We have come a long way since 1776 and we have found that freedom is not free.
“Read those documents and learn them well. Some day you will have to answer the question of will it be liberty or will it be death?”
“These documents need to be read, admired and understood,” said Price. “I hope this will be the beginning of a deeper understanding of our country. “This (shrine) is something we need to have at every school. You should be very proud of this.”