In 1954, the Crusade for Freedom’s national campaign took place as “Freedom Week”, which began on the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, February 12th, and ended on President George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd.
Here is a short overview of the launching of the 1954 Crusade for Freedom:
1. Seven women dressed in native costumes of the “captive” East Europe nations sent a “freedom message” by lightly tapping the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seven times with a rubber mallet. The women were identified as ex-refugees who declined to give their names “on fears of reprisals on relatives still living behind the Iron Curtain in Europe.” The seven strokes stood for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and the Baltic States. A microphone picked up the tones and carried them outside to a crowd that had gathered in Independence Square. An Associated Press photograph of the event was carried by newspapers throughout the United States.
2. The Fraternal Order of Eagles sponsored a nation-wide balloon campaign called “Eagles Flight for Freedom” in cities and towns throughout the United States, which opened the Crusade’s "Freedom Week" campaign. Over four hundred local Eagle Aeries launched 4,164 Helium gas-filled balloons, similar to the ones launched by the Free Europe Press in Germany, which “carry hope and encouragement to Soviet oppressed peoples of Europe.”
The balloons contained messages from local Eagle leaders, with identification cards and envelopes asking for “Truth Dollar” contributions from the finder as well as the place and date of the finding. The largest launching took place in downtown Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln: 2,000 balloons, with “Crusade for Freedom” in large letters clearly visible, were lofted with a contribution appeal message from Robert W Hansen, national Grand Worthy President of the Eagles.
The February 22, 1954, issue of Life magazine carried a photo essay, “Fund Raising Takes to Air,” on the Springfield launching, including one photograph showing the balloons, which had been inflated by Girl and Boy Scouts, being carried in a “massive parade” through the center of the city to the launching site in Lincoln Square.
3. Three helium-filled balloons with the light blue logo “Crusade for Freedom” were launched at the international boundary line on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Two rose up into the sky and drifted away; the third balloon fell into the Detroit River. The launching was billed to "remind Canadians and Americans of the importance of the freedom they possess, and to give hope to the people of other countries in Europe under the Communist yoke."