Divine Child High School will have the Freedom Shrine of the Dearborn Exchange Club installed Wednesday, as a memorial for a long-time pastor of the Divine Child Parish.
The dedication ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. in the Divine Child High School atrium. The exclusive club project not only celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Exchange Club, but also recognizes the life and more than 50 years of service shown by Monsignor Herman Kucyk, who died on this same May 18 date two years ago.
The Freedom Shrine is a historic exhibit of 29 authentic reproductions of vital American documents spanning 375 years from the Mayflower Compact (1620) through to the present day. Reproductions of documents (such as Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Monroe Doctrine, and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address) are each mounted on wood-grained plaques, protected from deterioration by plastic lamination.
Exchange Club members hope that the Freedom Shrines will remind all citizens of the courage, dedication and sacrifice of their forefathers, and they have dedicated 11,000 shrines since the 1949 inception of the program. Leonard M. Moore, member of the Dearborn Exchange Club, said the latest added to this collection of American documents was Martin Luther King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech which he delivered in Washington, D.C.
The Exchange Club has displayed these documents in the corridors of schools and public buildings throughout Dearborn, Leonard noted, adding that they “are worthy educational sources for transferring the traditions of our nation from one generation to the next,” and that Albert Einstein had suggested in 1936 that such a role be played by public and private schools.
“They had one at the library, they had one at City Hall, one at Fordson High and one at Edsel (Ford High),” Moore said. “The one at Edsel is for (honoring the 54 years of service of Congressman) John Dingell, that was last year.
“1976, our oldest member of the Exchange Club was the Freedom Shrine Director that year, John Nagy was active too, and we put it for (honoring Mayor Orville) Hubbard in Hubbard Manor. We’ve got a number of them all over town, but this (year’s site) is the first Catholic institution,” Moore said.
Moore considers Divine Child as “the Catholic institution in town, even more so than Sacred Heart,” saying the clergy assigned to it indicates it is a key church in the country, and the high school itself is “deserving.” He also found it ironical that the installment would be taking place in a Roman Catholic school on the same date that Pope John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Poland in 1920.
Current Exchange Club Freedom Shrine Committee Chair Kiernan O’Dowd noted this latest display in the National Exchange Club’s 100th year honors Kuyck for his “valued spiritual and educational contributions in uplifting this Wayne County area.”
The site nominated to receive the Freedom Wall is required to mount the plaques where they will be visible to students and/or the general public, and nominate a local citizen who has given outstanding service to the nation, state, city or school, so the wall will be dedicated in that person’s name. The club is responsible for bearing the cost of the plaques.
All are welcome to attend the dedication (visitors are asked to check in at the high school office).