Charter of Freedom

The 34th Charters of Freedom installation in the United States, and the 23rd in the Carolinas, was dedicated last Friday on the front lawn of the Brunswick County Courthouse in Bolivia.

A large group gathered to see the bronze replicas of The Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and Bill of Rights (the originals are on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.).

Project coordinator Commissioner Pat Sykes thanked Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, co-founders of the educational nonprofit Foundation Forward Inc., as well as her fellow county commissioners and members of our community for the vision to bring the Charters of Freedom to Brunswick County.

The first speaker was North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. “Behind me represents what this nation is all about,” said Robinson, gesturing to the life-size replicas behind him. He referenced The Constitution, saying “In that document, we see common sense, we see decency, we see fairness in action. We need to pass on to future generations the same things the founders passed on to us.”

Other speakers included: Dr. Jerry Oates, Superintendent of Brunswick County Schools; Chad Adams, board member of Brunswick County Charter Schools; Jason Disbrow, Superior Court Judge; Colonel (Ret) Joseph Calisto, West Brunswick High School JROTC; and Jim Fish, director of Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc.

In his remarks, Disbrow stated it was a great day for all the citizens of Brunswick County, and commended Commissioner Sykes for her hard work spearheading this effort to bring the Charters of Freedom to the county.

“These documents are a reminder of the greatness of this nation and the foundation upon which is was created,” said Disbrow.

“The documents represented here secured the freedom and rights of the American people and will educate and preserve American history,” stated Vance Patterson. “Imagine if you will schoolteachers bringing their third, fourth and fifth grade classes to their Charters of Freedom for annual field trips to learn a little about our founding fathers, the history surrounding the beginning of our country, and how the government is meant to serve and protect We The People,” he said.

Six etched bronze document pages are included in the installation. The display’s centerpiece is a four-page representation of The U.S. Constitution, with a page of the Declaration of Independence and a page for The Bill of Rights on either side. The bronze pages, each weighing over 60 pounds, are mounted in a limestone and mortar display supported by a core foundation weighing over 19 tons. “This setting is built to last 300 to 500 years,” Patterson told attendees.

During the event, Brunswick County Chairman Randy Thompson and county commissioners accepted ownership of the installation on behalf of the residents of Brunswick County. Turning over the deed, Patterson thanked commissioners for their efforts, as well as the efforts of contributing community members who worked with Foundation Forward to make the installation possible.

Augmenting the dedication ceremonies were musical performances by South Brunswick high School’s a capella group the Brunswick Bellas, and Laura Spencer who closed the festivities singing “God Bless the USA.” Additional music was provided by band members from Brunswick County high schools. A seven-gun volley of miniature cannons - one for each section of The Constitution - took place just before the ceremony wrapped up with closing comments by Commissioner Mike Forte.

Dedication attendees added their signatures to a document that will be sealed in a time capsule within the installation. Additional legacy brick pavers and donor plaques will be installed as part of the plaza where the Charters of Freedom installation stands. Area residents can honor loved ones, active duty military or veterans, first responders, businesses or organizations through tax-deductible purchase of pavers and plaques by visiting or calling 828-522-1400.