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Veterans Memorial to expand

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CHARTERS OF FREEDOM: According to Mike Unruh of Foundation Forward, the setting in Huntington will look similar to the one pictured above. The setting at Memorial Park will feature a brick facade with capstones and document trays made from Indiana Limestone.
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CHARTERS OF FREEDOM:A family readsthe Charters of Freedom documents in a limestone setting in Jacksonville, Illinois.
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CHARTERS OF FREEDOM: A setting in Lenoir, North Carolina with interior lighting. The setting in Huntington will also have interior lighting so visitors can read the documents both day and night. The pages are inscribed in bronze metal and encased in shatterproof glass.
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CHARTERS OF FREEDOM: Huntington will receive a Charters of Freedom setting which will include historic documents including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, at a dedication ceremony at Memorial Park on Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. Residents of Winner, South Dakota admire a concrete form Charters of Freedom setting in their community.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

Replicas of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights will be dedicated in a new setting at Memorial Park this Veterans Day.

Foundation Forward, a non-profit educational organization, works with communities across the country to dedicate replicas of the historic documents which make the Charters of Freedom. The new replica is being considered a “gift” to the city.

“We work with contractors and donors across the country that will either discount or completely donate either their labor or the materials,” said Mike Unruh of Foundation Forward. “Or people will donate money to help offset the cost so that this is provided as a gift to the citizens of the community and it uses zero taxpayer dollars.”

On Saturday, Nov. 9, a dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. immediately following the Veterans Day parade at Memorial Park in Huntington.

“The parade will end right there at the park and then we will commence with the dedication ceremony,” Unruh said.

Mayor Brooks Fetters is excited about the opportunity to have a privately donated monument that will stand the test of time. He says the gift, which will be at no cost to the community, is an opportunity for Huntington to “pay it forward.”

Construction is set to begin within the next few weeks at Memorial Park next to the Veterans Memorial.

“The setting will be made of brick and limestone to match our gateways,” said Fetters.

Unruh says the community will be able to watch the project take shape each week from the earliest stages of excavation of land and pouring of concrete to the final stage where the bronze documents will be covered by shatterproof glass.

“They’ll get painted and then the trim put on and then they get covered with tarps right before the dedication ceremony so that we can have an unveiling of it right after the parade,” Unruh said.

The founder of the Foundation Forward organization, Vance Pattersonn, was born in Kokomo, Ind. and attended Hanover College. The organization got its start in North Carolina, but Unruh says Indiana is their second home.

“We have our second headquarters in Indiana where we have a couple of staff members up there,” Unruh said.

Charters of Freedom settings already exist in Kokomo and another at Hannover College. In 2019 the organization will dedicate a new setting in Hamilton County on Sept. 28, followed by Huntington County and Cass County, which will both be dedicated on Veterans Day Weekend.

The original Charters of Freedom documents are housed at the National Archive Museum in Washington, D.C. Founders Vance Patterson and his wife Mary Jo Patterson visited the museum in 2014. The experience left such an impact on them that they brought the concept of replicating the documents to their county commissioners in North Carolina.

According to Unruh, the commissioners asked for blueprints or specifications of measurements for the documents, but there were none. The Pattersons took it upon themselves to revisit D.C. to take their own measurements.

“They stood next to the setting and said ‘OK it goes about this high on my hip’ and Mary Jo took a little piece of chalk and marked it on her pants,” Unruh said. “And then Vance took one step to the side and another step to the side and said ‘OK it’s two and half steps wide.’”

The measurements, while not an exact science, were enough to garner the approval from county commissioners and the setting was constructed. In 2019, Indiana is just one of the states which will receive their Charters of Freedom settings.

“This year we’re doing dedications in South Dakota, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina,” Unruh said. “Everybody that we talk to just falls in love with the project, I don’t know how you can’t fall in love with the project, it’s amazing.”