AIKEN - Area residents who want to see history in the making Saturday when South Carolina lowers the flag from its Statehouse dome in Columbia have several opportunities to participate:
The flag lowering at noon can be viewed from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia, but the ceremony itself in the Capitol rotunda is not open to the public. The raising of a different flag, one like South Carolina soldiers fought under, is on the Statehouse grounds and can be seen from there or from public sidewalks across Gervais Street at Main.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is having a silent march past the monument to Confederate soldiers on the north side of the Statehouse at approximately 10 a.m. Marchers will begin gathering at 8:30 a.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park on Gadsden Street.
It is the same park where participants gathered to march to the Capitol in January, when 46,000 people attended an anti-flag rally. The silent march is to protest the placement of any Confederate flag on the Statehouse grounds.
Several pro-flag groups are gathering from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Statehouse grounds' northeast corner at the monument to governor and statesman James F. Byrnes. Dubbed the "Million Rebel March," this event is expected to draw caravans from throughout the state.
One from the Aiken-Augusta area will go to Columbia from the Interstate 20 rest stop at Exit 18, leaving at 8 a.m.
Another group will leave from the old Kmart parking lot on the Aiken-Augusta Highway at 8 a.m.
The Confederate States of America Heritage Preservation Society has a permit for a pro-flag rally from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the north side of the Statehouse. It will begin after the formal ceremonies are completed.
Aiken- and Augusta-area residents who want to boycott the official ceremonies in support of the Confederate flag will gather at noon at the Aiken County Courthouse. A lunch at Bobby's BBQ on the Aiken-Augusta Highway will follow, featuring a talk by the founder of the League of the South, Dr. Michael Hill.
Reach Margaret N. O'Shea at (803) 279-6895.