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History was in the making as the flag was lowered

By Garrett Mitchell, Staff Reporter
Published on Friday, July 10, 2015

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As the flag was lowered this man with the guitar struck a chord and sang,

Garrett Mitchell

As the flag was lowered this man with the guitar struck a chord and sang, "This land is our land. This land is your land. This land was made for you and me."

 

The Columbia air was muggy, even for 7:30 in the morning, as people began to converge on the South Carolina State House.

There was a somber stillness, and as people approached the steps of the capitol, the Confederate flag, for the moment still hanging from its flagpole on the State House lawn, lay flat in the stillness.

Just two and a half hours left until the end of its residency at the highest place of government in South Carolina, a momentary breeze picked up the banner, starching it outwards for all to see. It would be the last time the Confederate flag would feel the wind over South Carolina.

As time ticked away the crowd swelled to nearly 12,000 strong. There were agendas to promote, opinions to espouse, but none seemed to deny that the day was one of historical significance.

Many carried signs, in favor or against the flag, and citizens of all races and backgrounds mingled with one another. Most, however, seemed to treat the moment with a sort of somber dignity. It wasn't a day to hate, it was a day for forgiveness and unity. It was a line of respect that nobody seemed willing to cross.

One man held a hand-painted portrait of the “Charleston Nine” representing the members of Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston who were callously gunned down in their house of worship on June 17, and whose deaths ultimately served as the catalyst for the flag's removal.

Another man, there to support the flag, engaged the artist in conversation. After a few minutes of quiet discussion, the two embraced and parted ways. It was a microcosm of the emotions permeating the crowd.

The crowd, as it grew, remained tempered until the final minutes before the delegation charged with the dignified removal of the flag made their way onto the lawn.

Chants of "take it down!" began to resonate among the masses while an elderly man tuned his guitar by the edge of the fence separating the citizens from the dignitaries. Then, at 10:09 a.m. a roar went up from the streets as the flag started its final descent. In a few seconds it was over.

As the streets cleared, people moved on to taking up their daily routines, walking to their vehicles to return to their jobs, homes, and families. Perhaps the gravity of the morning's events had yet to sink in.

Everybody that lined Gervais and Assembly Streets in Columbia on Friday morning, witnessed history.

Those who perished to help pave the way for this step towards equality for all citizens will not be forgotten. South Carolinians can be proud of the peace and civility shown on Friday morning, a testament to the strength and willingness to forgive by the people of this great state.

As the flag was lowered, the man with the guitar struck a chord and sang,  "This land is our land. This land is your land. This land was made for you and me."

 

 

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