Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, collectively known as the Charters of Freedom, have guaranteed the rights and freedoms of Americans for more than 200 years. Thanks to the leadership of Macon County Commissioner Gary Shields and with the support of the board of commissioners, Macon County residents will soon be able to view replicas of the documents firsthand.

The Macon County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday night to unanimously approve a Letter of Intent with Foundation Forward, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides Charters of Freedom monuments. Macon County Manager Derek Roland also announced that after working with county officials, it was decided that the Charters of Freedom will be mounted on the courthouse plaza in front of the Macon County courthouse.

“Our courthouse square is a central location for our town and I think adding the monuments to the plaza will give the public a great opportunity to view these documents,” said Roland. “They will make a great staple for the courthouse and will add to the features that are already there.”

Roland also noted that the Charters of Freedom will be constructed from brick, which will match the brick sidewalk that leads up to the courthouse. Foundation Forward will cover the cost of the  monuments, which is expected to cost about $25,000.

Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, who came up with the idea to form Foundation Forward in 2012, will make the initial contribution to begin the project in the amount of $1,000. From there, Foundation Forward will fund the construction of the monuments, which are expected to take six to eight weeks to be completed, when the project begins.

Foundation Forward works to bring the Charters of Freedom, which includes the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution,  to local communities in life size replicas of the monuments in the National Archives. Charters of Freedom Monuments are placed in a location central to the community, with 24 hour access, high visibility, high foot traffic, and easy access for school children. Shields noted that the location on the courthouse is an ideal location to be able to do that.

Since the first monuments were built in Burke County, the monuments have been replicated throughout North Carolina and have also been constructed in other states in the country. Most recently, Foundation Forward has worked with Jackson County to construct a brick monument displaying the Charters of Freedom.