We have said, on more than one occasion, that one of the pleasantest places to walk in Columbia is the grounds of the South Carolina State House. With many statues that commemorate the people, events and others that make up our history, it is a tranquil oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown Columbia. In the first of this series, we focused on the statues of people. Now, with few exceptions, we will focus on events and others. Starting directly in front of the State House (at Main and Gervais) our first target is the Confederate Monument.
The monument has become known for what is behind it that for what it stands for. Directly behind the statue is a Confederate flag that flies 24 hours a day. Prior to 2001, the flag flew from the top of the State House. One of the older monuments on the grounds, the monument was erected in 1879, it is also the setting for the annual Christmas tree and the Governor's Carolighting ceremony. Directly behind it and on the first level of the steps leading up to the State House is the statue of George Washington.
The statue of Washington is prominent for what is missing. On close inspection, one will notice that Washington’s walking stick is broken. This was done by Union soldiers in February, 1865, an example of the tangible damage done during the war. Heading west (toward Assembly Street), our next stop is the Palmetto Regiment Monument.
The Palmetto Regiment Monument is, perhaps, the most unusual on the grounds. It is a metal palmetto tree. At first glance, it looks like the real thing. The oldest monument on the grounds, it was erected in 1852 to honor those who fought in the Mexican War. Continue toward Assembly Street to the South Carolina Veterans Monument.
The Veterans Monument is one of the more recent monuments on the grounds. Dedicated in 2005, it commemorates all members of the Armed Services with flags from each service branch and a POW-MIA flag. Walk back toward the State House, bearing to the right to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Monument. On your way, look for the six bronze stars on the west and southwest walls of the State House marking damage from Union cannon balls during the Civil War in February, 1865.
Another recent addition, dedicated in 2006,the Law Enforcement Monument commemorates those Law Enforcement Officers who were killed in the line of duty. The name of each officer in inscribed. Included in the memorial is a thin blue line, the symbol of law enforcement.
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