Red, white and blue abounded at a community celebration Thursday afternoon as a new monument was unveiled that brings the nation’s founding documents to the heart of Richland County.
Bronze replicas of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – known as the Charters of Freedom – are now on public display in front of the Richland County Administration Building. Encased in limestone pillars and protected by glass, the documents, which weigh more than 60 pounds each, allow residents to understand the history of their government.
The monument was donated by Foundation Forward, Inc., a nonprofit founded by Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, who are also owners of Patterson Fan Company in Blythewood. The Pattersons started Foundation Forward and began installing Charters of Freedom monuments in communities around the country as an educational initiative.
“In order to have a free and independent society, you must understand how government works,” Patterson said.
The monument was installed on Richland County grounds at no cost to taxpayers. Vance Patterson estimated the cost of the monument at $75,000.
Richland County Councilmembers, elected officials, residents and employees of Patterson Fan Company attended Thursday’s ceremony, which included music by Fort Jackson’s 282nd Army Band, a Betsy Ross reenactor and patriotic fanfare. Richland County Councilmembers took turns firing small cannons after Articles of the Constitution were read aloud.
“Most people won’t get to Washington, D.C., to see these founding documents but now we have them here in Richland County for our children and for all our residents,” said Richland County Council Chair Torrey Rush. “Hopefully this monument will encourage people to get people involved in their local government and to understand what the government is and how it works.”
Richland County is the first community in South Carolina to receive a Charters of Freedom Monument.
Attendees at Thursday’s dedication ceremony signed their names on petitions that will be locked away in a time capsule located in the back of the monument. The time capsule is planned to be opened on Sept. 17, 2087 – the 300-year anniversary of the Constitution.
For more information about Foundation Forward, Inc., click here.