Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Today is Independence Day in America. Over 230 years ago, this country declared its independence from Great Britain, and in doing so, begain building what would become The United States of America. The preamble of that declaration begins:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain Inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
One of the things that makes American unique is its historically held belief/foundation that it is God who blesses ("endows") people with all they have. Sadly, that fact is lost on many today.

America--in spite of all that is wrong with her, and we won't go into that today--is a GREAT country. I am thankful and proud that I am an American. I am grateful for the vision our forefathers had for this country. I am thankful for the courage they had to declare independence, knowing that for some of them, it would mean loss of everything they had...including their own lives. At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having stated: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately," a play on words indicating that failure to stay united and succeed would risk being tried and executed, individually, for treason. (Source- Wikipedia)

I believe the following is fairly accurate. It should give us something to think about this day. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence:

  • Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
  • Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
  • Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
  • Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

  • Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
  • Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
  • Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
  • Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
  • Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
  • At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
  • Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
  • John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

Freedom is never free. Thank God for these patriots; and thank God for those men and women who continue to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Have a safe and happy Fourth!

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