While participating in the traditions that often come with Independence Day — the fireworks, barbecues and time spent with family — it is important to pause and remember the history and background of our great nation. In late May, replicas of three special pieces of our nation’s history were dedicated in Columbia as a result of an educational project called Foundation Forward, Inc. Working with this organization, the employees of Patterson Fan Company gifted to the children and citizens of Richland County and South Carolina their first Charters of Freedom monument with replicas of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The monument was built at 2020 Hampton St., in front of the Richland County Administration Building, and is one of six completed monuments built thus far by Foundation Forward using no tax dollars. Over the next nine years, the organization aims to place monuments in as many communities across the United States as possible.
The creation of Foundation Forward stemmed from native Columbians Mary Jo and Vance Patterson’s trip to Washington, D.C. in fall 2011. Viewing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in our nation’s Capitol for the first time was an experience that the two will likely never forget. Vance recalls an overwhelming feeling of emotions, goosebumps and the lump in his throat that formed when he first laid eyes on the Charters of Freedom. As a result, the couple decided to start a foundation to bring the Charters of Freedom to cities and towns across the country so that people in other communities may have this same awe-inspiring experience without having to travel up to Washington, D.C.
One goal of Foundation Forward is to expose citizens, especially children, to these important documents and our government. To be selected as a site for a Charters of Freedom monument, a location must have high visibility, high foot traffic and easy access for school children. “We want to provide education for the students and citizens of these communities so they will know how the government works. We want to provide local access to our founding documents in a proper setting and inspire community involvement in educating and celebrating our form of government which guarantees safety and freedom,” says Vance of the goals of Foundation Forward.
On the decision to place the Charters of Freedom monument in Columbia, Vance says that their ties to the community made the choice an easy one. “Our four children live in Richland County. My business, Patterson Fan Company, is in Richland County. We believe Columbia and the state of South Carolina could use some good news; a positive event to show we have a strong, family-oriented community that all the country should see.”
Learn more about the Charters of Freedom monument in Columbia and other monuments by Foundation Forward, Inc. at ChartersofFreedom.com.