"I've been president of the Veterans' Outreach since 1994," Branch said. "We submitted our proposal for the shrine that year."
With the help of the MCTC administration and volunteer activities coordinator Sharon Rucker, Veterans' Outreach contacted representatives of the Exchange Club and the work began.
The Exchange Club provided the documents as they have done for previous shrines in schools and other public buildings in Washington County, according to Exchange member Scott Paddack.
But that was just the beginning.
Also contributing to the project were:
- Richard Hershey Post 41, Veterans of Vietnam, emblems of the major wars with U.S. flags.
- Webster Harrison Post 26, American Legion, Hancock, emblems of the five branches of the service.
- John Kroschinsky provided the wood for the display cases and plaque backings.
- MCTC maintenance, installation of shrine and lighting.
- Inmate maintenance crew, display backs for major war emblems.
- Veterans' Outreach membership, POW/MIA flag and dedication plaque.
- MCTC inmate population, U.S. and Maryland flags from money earned through sub sales.
"We researched all the documents," said Veterans' Outreach member Randy Jones. "It was a lot of labor but we finished the assembly last month."
Another member, Charles Thomas, said the shrine is especially important to him since he is a Vietnam veteran.
"It means patriotism and duty," Thomas said. "It's for those who gave the ultimate for our freedom."
The shrine is on the west wall of the MCTC visitors center. The fact that it dominates the room where inmates visit with family and friends is no accident, Branch said.
"We receive the gift of freedom automatically because we are Americans," Branch said. "All who venture through these doors can now see how that freedom was purchased for us."