Sitting around the tables at any Sunday afternoon meeting of the Chattanooga Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge is a living history lesson. The members of this civic organization represent our Greatest Generation in a prolific manner.
As the group gathered at the Ruritan Club facility on Highway 58 for their annual installation of officers, it was like time travelling to Omaha Beach, The Battle of the Bulge and the skies over Germany.
Ralph Painter, a 96-year-old veteran of the Normandy Invasion and The Battle of the Bulge and Richard Edgerton, a P-51 reconnaissance pilot who joined the Army Air Corps just after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, reminded us all of why we enjoy the freedoms we have today.
These men, and others like them, exemplify the core values and principles of the organization:
Educate – About American Rights and Responsibilities
· Democracy depends on an active citizenry, informed about our revolutionary constitutional heritage and free enterprise system
· Hands-on and experiential learning form the core of our educational approach
· Honor – Acts of Civic Virtue
Honoring community service and those who give selflessly strengthens civic society
· Recognizing those who promote the principles and values of a free society ensures a future of freedom
· Challenge – Reject Apathy and Get Involved
· Participating in community while respecting the rights and beliefs of others strengthens freedom for all
· Freedom to choose carries with it the responsibility for our choices
Further evidence of the role the Freedoms Foundation plays was found in listening to two of the local students the club had sent to the 2018 “Spirit of America Youth Leadership Summit” in Philadelphia.
Tanaisha Montgomery and Sandy Chen, both of Red Bank High School, were among six students the local chapter sponsored earlier this year.
According to Miss Montgomery, “It was a bit nerve wracking, but learning about the Constitution solidified my patriotism for my country.”
Miss Chen said, “The experience defined, for me, what freedom is.
It’s not just a word.” She added, “The experience was really, really enjoyable.” Both young ladies expressed their thanks to the group for the opportunity to attend the summit.
The chapter works throughout the year to raise the funds to fly attendees to Philadelphia and to provide hotel accommodations and per diem for their stay. Attendees are from local schools in the Hamilton County and North Georgia areas and are selected on the basis of written essays.
Judge Clarence Shattuck was the installing officer and remarked that “there were those who, if not held in check, would erode or lessen our freedoms.” He continued, “I still believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
As he installed the incoming chapter officers, he read from a preamble to the responsibilities of each about to be installed:
“Freedom and Responsibility are mutual and inseparable. We can ensure the Enjoyment of one by exercising the other. Freedom for all of us depends on responsibility. To secure and expand our liberties and fully carry out the Mission of Freedoms Foundation at valley Forge each of you must accept and agree to accept the responsibility to help educate, inspire and preserve the ideals upon which the United States was founded.”
Upon accepting his installation to the office of Co-President, Gene Pike reminded the chapter that “we know what’s been given for our freedoms in the past.”
“Today’s generation has been given their freedoms on a silver platter,” he continued. He concluded, “It is up to us to educate and instill what freedom means.”
The officers installed were: Gene and Stephen Pike, Co-Presidents; Larry Henry, 1st Vice President; Patsy Henry, VP Membership; Linda Mines, VP Education; Earl Freudenberg, VP Public Relations; Steve Highlander and Charlotte Ellington, Co-VPs Youth; Robbie and Dean Morehouse, Co-VPs Awards; Gail Pike, VP Hospitality; Lea Pike, Recording Secretary; Jim McKinney and Jeanne Abbott, Co-Corresponding Secretaries; Valerie Rutledge, Treasurer; Jeff Scott, Past President; and, Bettye Parker, Parliamentarian.
The meeting concluded with Geraldine Charton leading the group in a rousing chorus of “God Bless America.”
More information about the organization can be found at www.freedomsfoundation.org . Locally, requests for information may be sent to Chattanooga Chapter, FFVF, P.O. Box 21443, Chattanooga, TN 37424-0443.
(Contact Dennis Norwood at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter at @DennisENorwood)