There’s a difference in being from the South and being a South Carolinian. Yes, we are Southern, but we’re a different kind of Southern.
South Carolina: the 8th state admitted to the union, 187 miles of coast line, and fields full of cotton, tobacco, and soybeans. Our state’s motto is “Dum Spiro Spero” (read: while I breathe, I hope) and our slogan is “Smiling faces, beautiful places.” These two phrases embody everything that is South Carolina. Our beaches are beautiful, our mountains are breathtaking, our history is rich, and our traditions run generations deep. We are southern belles, gentlemen in bow ties, palmetto trees, and sweet tea. There’s nothing quite like homegrown vegetables and fresh fruit. During the summer, the only acceptable place to get vegetables is from the farmers market or your own backyard. Homemade jam, cobblers, and pickles are an art form. We have peach festivals, okra struts, lightening bugs, and oyster roasts. South Carolina barbecues always have banana puddin’ and watermelon, and our grandmas make the best fried chicken.
August-November is not “fall,” it is football season. You either wear orange or you wear garnet. Columbia, South Carolina is home to the beloved Gamecocks and you can see William’s Brice Stadium from the interstate. If you want to do anything in town on a Football Saturday, you better do it before game time or you’ll be out of luck. Girls wear pearls and dresses, guys wear khakis and polo shirts. Moms cook the best food to create the most eccentric tailgating spread of your life and no tailgate is complete without boiled peanuts, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam.
The American Flag and the South Carolina State Flag fly side-by-side in our front yards. You’ll find us supporting our high school football teams on Friday nights, spending our Saturdays on the lake, and we’re found in church on Sunday mornings. South Carolina thunderstorms are appreciated by everyone who has experienced them and there is something heavenly about the stars on a clear summer night. We are as far from a “New York Minute” as you can get and sometimes it seems as if time actually is moving slower. “Sunday Supper” is an affair the entire family participates in and it is usually an all-day event. We have family reunions every chance we get and you’ll find Grandpa’s house flooded with grandchildren at any given moment. Supper is “storytelling time” and everyone is quiet. You’ll hear about WWI and WWII, the Vietnam War, how to cook the best grits, where the family recipes come from, and how proud your family is of their heritage—both American and Southern.
We aren’t a state that boasts a professional sports team or a well-known event. We don’t have four seasons; October-April is just chilly and May-September is hot with a side of humidity. But we are a state that gives you the best of both vacation spots: you can choose to put your toes in the sand and soak up the sun, or breathe the mountain air and visit Caesar’s Head. My grandfather (a Yankee) and my grandmother (an Alabama girl) chose to call South Carolina home after a life in the military. My father was an Army boy and my mother is the most precious country girl you’ve ever seen. I’ve lived with a variety of people from all over the world and while I haven’t travelled as much as my peers, I would still venture to say you’d be hard-pressed to find anything comparable. South Carolina isn’t just a state I call home; it’s a unique state of mind.