J.B.'s Journal: President's Day

EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -- Stephen Dement is passionate about America.

"Sheriff, I want to welcome you to the hall of Presidents of the American Freedom Museum, here on the campus of the Brook Hill School," he said. "Here at the museum, we try to instill in our visitors a sense of appreciation for our history, our heritage."

His personal collection showcases historical documents from all 44 U.S. Presidents.

"A tally sheet from Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial."

"John Quincy Adams only published poet as a president, have an original poem."

"This is the order President Eisenhower signed in 1954 adding the words "under God" to the pledge of allegiance."

A red ribbon threads together presidential spiritual quotes throughout the museum.

"Faith was an important part of each of our presidents," Dement said.

Also displayed is a document from Samuel Huntington, who served the country before George Washington.

"We had ten individuals serve as the presiding officer of Congress, no presidency, no executive branch, this individual served as the President of the U.S.," Dement said.

The museum has signed article from every U.S. President, and even has a lock of hair from our first President George Washington.

"When Washington was on his death bed, Martha Washington clipped a lock of his hair and gave it to his good friend Alexander Hamilton," he said.

Dement acquired a strand of the hair when it was auctioned off. Another rare item is a letter of resignation from President Richard Nixon.

"We also have a military commission signed by Lincoln during the war between the states," Dement said.

East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert helped Dement collect a signature from President Barack Obama after the state of the union address.

"We said, 'a museum in our district is having difficulty getting your signature could you help us?'" Dement said. "He [Obama] said, 'we'll fix that,' and pulled out a card and signed it."

Dement believes history will remember George Washington and Ronald Reagan as great leaders.

"Reagan instituted and instilled in America a sense of hope, sense of positive atmosphere, pride in our country."

So what will he add next?

"Here we have our sitting President Obama and a new exhibit coming soon."

The 15,000 square foot American Freedom Museum on the campus of the Brook Hill school is open for public tours and field trips from schools.

It also features a large exhibit area with displays and artifacts from every U.S. War from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq.


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