04 July 2012

Don't Forget WHY We Celebrate

The Continental Congress officially adopted the "resolution of independence" on
2 July 1776, but we observe the Founders' oh-so-elegant "Screw You King Georgie" Declaration of Independence on the date that appears on the original document.

Today we observe the most successful act of defiance in recorded history ever conducted against what was - at that time - the toughest Superpower on the planet.

A rag-tag group of mostly untrained colonists:  farmers, businessmen, and clear-thinking idealists, told
King George III of The Mighty British Empire
(the largest empire the planet had ever seen, up to that time!) to go perform an anatomically impossible act with himself.

56 men signed that document.
Here's just a sample of what they suffered because of their courageous decision to sign:

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and executed.

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 were lawyers and jurists, merchants, farmers and 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. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.

These are the men we honor this day.
Men who stood tall and signed their names to a document that they KNEW could end their lives.
A document that closes with these words, which we must ALWAYS honor, respect, and continue to live up to:

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