Monday, July 8, 2013
Why is the Fourth of July important?
Is it just a day we get off work to grill out, watch a parade, go to the beach, and play a game of baseball?
The historical significance of the day is, sadly, sometimes overlooked. I’m afraid that we’ve had our freedoms so long that we, as a nation, don’t appreciate them.
It concerned me when I heard on the news that a survey found that many would trade their freedoms for security and safety. That’s certainly not what our founding fathers thought. They risked everything they had when they formed our country, and from that point on were in danger because they were guilty of high treason against the British Crown.
This is why, when the Continental Congress was about to be torn apart with arguments of various things concerning the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together or we shall most assuredly hang separately!”
They knew that once they affixed their name to that document they were placing their neck in a noose and risking everything, which is why at the end of the Declaration it says, “…we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
What sacrifices did the Founding Fathers make?
William Floyd of New York was forced to flee when the British plundered his property, taking everything he had leaving him and his family destitute. For seven years he had no income. The strain on his wife was so great that it lead to her death two years before the war’s end.
Carter Braxton of Virginia had invested almost every cent he had in shipping. Yet he saw most of his vessels captured or sunk by the British Navy. His estates were ruined and he died in debt and in poverty.
Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge and Arthur Middleton, all from our state, suffered the destruction of their homes at the hands of enemy troops. All three were captured when Charleston fell in 1780, and spent a year in a British prison.
Thomas Nelson Jr. of Virginia saw his home seized by the British and occupied by General Cornwallis during the battle of Yorktown. Nelson then quietly urged General George Washington to fire on his own home. Washington did so and Nelson was never again a man of wealth. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave.
John Hart was driven from his home while his wife lay dying as the British were on their way to his home. When he came back some time later he found her dead and all 13 of his children had vanished and he never saw them again.
There are many more examples. They sacrificed more than what is imaginable all because they wanted freedom.
Such sacrifices have been made throughout our history. It may surprise some of you to know that from the Revolutionary War to the present over 1 million U.S. soldiers have died in combat. They died for freedom.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on our freedoms, freedoms that came at such a high price.
When we wake up on this Fourth of July, when we have our picnic dinners, and when we go to bed that night there will be, as there has always been, men and women on the wall defending and in some cases even dying for the freedoms that on the Fourth of July 1776 our Founding Fathers gave us when they signed the Declaration of Independence.
While the Founding Fathers who gave us our freedoms were certainly patriots, it should lift our hearts to know that there are still patriots today – the men and women serving in the military.
May God bless our great and wonderful country!