Freedom Train Visits Bluefield

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
September 29, 1948

Freedom Train Attendance Record Broken As 13,363 Bluefielders Visit Scene

Inspired Thousands See Priceless Assembly Of Historical Documents in "Train's" Coaches


A new nationwide attendance mark for the entire tour of the Freedom Train was established in Bluefield yesterday as 13,363 persons scanned the most inspiring collection of American historical documents ever shown to the people of a nation, Walter H. S. O'Brien, Freedom Train director, announced to the Daily Telegraph last night.

The previous attendance record, the train director said, was set in Paterson, N. J., one year ago this month when 13,222 persons saw the exhibits.

Here in Bluefield yesterday this record attendance of persons of all ages and walks of life viewed in reverent silence the priceless documents in every era of American history.

To many spectators these struggles were relived back as they viewed the flag which flew over Iwo Jima when the island was invade by U. S. Marines, and the surrender papers of the Japanese aboard the U. S. S. Missouri.

The primary purpose of the Freedom Train was realized by many as they became aware of the importance of raising the citizenship level of our country and individual participation in maintaining American principles of liberty.

But as Thomas D. A. Brophy, president of the American Heritage Foundation has said, "The success of the program will not be measured by the total miles the train covers, but instead, reward will come when all Americans appreciate the great stake they have in their own form of government and resolve never to lose it through neglect."

School Children See Train

Included in the thousands of persons witnessing the documents yesterday were thousands of school children from mercer and surrounding counties, who were transported to the Freedom Train by school buses.

Long before the official opening at 9:30 a. m. the streets were lined for blocks with children waiting patiently for their turn to pass through the train.

Shortly after 1 o'clock the general public was lined up for blocks awaiting their turn to go through the Freedom Train. And by closing time at 10 o'clock last night, approximately 13,363 had gazed upon the historical papers.

Commemorating the occasion of the train's visit and the final day of Rededication Week, Bluefield businessmen placed flags in front of their business establishments.

Further adding to the patriotic atmosphere were stirring melodies being played throughout the Freedom Train area.

Last Appearance in State

This was the last scheduled appearance of the Freedom Train in southern West Virginia. The train will roll out of Bluefield late tonight for Bristol, Va., and from there across the country as it heads for its final showing of the current tour.

Concluding the formal program of Rededication Week here was a joint meeting yesterday of the Quota, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs, with the Rotary club as hosts.

In charge of the program was Dr. E. C. Wade, chairman of the Freedom Train committee. Guest speaker was W. H. S. O'Brien, director of the Freedom Train.

Government and Politics

West Virginia Archives and History