ALBEMARLE — Three life-size bronze replicas of the Charters of Freedom — the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights — will soon be in Albemarle.
On Monday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the future location of the “Your Charters of Freedom” site, a spot on the lawn in between Albemarle City Hall and the Stanly County History Museum.
The charter’s construction will take place over the next few weeks leading up to a full-scale patriotic dedication ceremony in 2021. The glass-enclosed bronze tablets are being installed by Foundation Forward, Inc., an educational nonprofit that has already created 32 Charters of Freedom settings throughout the United States, including 20 in North Carolina.
Vance and Mary Joe Patterson, who began the foundation 11 years ago, were inspired to take up the project after viewing the original founding documents at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and now hold a long-term goal of installing charter sites within every county in the United States.
The idea for a monument in Albemarle began 18 months ago when Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael, Mayor-Pro Tem Martha Sue Hall, and County Commission Chair Matthew Swain began conversing with a Foundation Forward director, following a “1776” musical stage play at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.
“I had no idea this even existed until we were having that discussion,” Michael said at Monday’s event. “He told us about having these other locations but at that point, we weren’t even on their list to be considered to receive this charter.”
After speaking with Michael, Hall and Swain, Foundation Forward agreed to a new charter project for Albemarle. The three local leaders are now part of a 14-member steering committee tasked with spreading the word and assisting in the progress of the site’s construction.
“Today, we are breaking ground for the Charters of Freedom, which will be a monument that holds the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Michael said.
The mayor proceeded to thank the Stanly County School system, including former interim superintendent Vicki Calvert and current superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis (both in attendance), for allowing the masonry class at West Stanly High School to be involved with building the new monument.
“It’s been a very challenging year for everybody, but really we see this as a helpful project to bring the community together and give people something to look forward to and be proud of,” Jennifer McMillan, community development manager at Foundation Forward, said at the groundbreaking event. “We’re super excited and we’ll certainly have more ideas as the dedication comes closer.”
Community leaders and local citizens will also be able to get involved in the creation of a site time capsule, containing letters, memorabilia and dedications.
“We really want to get as many people involved as we possibly can. We thank you and look forward to the dedication in about six to nine months,” McMillan said.