Yesterday was the 4th of July. Independence Day really, though it’s seldom called that anymore. It’s a day that most American’s have off of work. It’s a day for parties, barbeques, pool time and fireworks. All of that is fine; it’s good to be able to relax and enjoy the day, to have fun and celebrate. But like many things in life, the celebration shouldn’t become elevated above the reason for the celebration.
On July 4, 1776, the delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. The men who issued that famous document realized they were signing their own death warrants, since the British would consider them traitors. Many suffered hardship during the Revolutionary War.
William Floyd (NY) saw the British use his home for a barracks. His family fled to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees. After the war, Floyd found his fields stripped and house damaged.
Richard Stockton (NJ) was dragged from his bed, thrown into prison, and treated like a common criminal. His home was looted and his fortune badly impaired. He was released in 1777, but his health was broken. He died a few years later.
At age 63, John Hart (NJ) hid in the woods during December 1776 while Hessian soldiers hunted him across the countryside. He died before war’s end. The New Jersey Gazette reported that he “continued to the day he was seized with his last illness to discharge the duties of a faithful and upright patriot in the service of his country.”
Thomas Nelson (VA) commanded militia and served as governor during the Revolution. He reportedly instructed artillerymen to fire at his own house in Yorktown when he heard the British were using it as a headquarters. Nelson used his personal credit to raise money for the Patriot cause. His sacrifices left him in financial distress, and he was unable to repair his Yorktown home after the war.
Thomas Heyward, Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge (SC) served in their state’s militia and were captured when the British seized Charleston. They spent a year in a St. Augustine prison and, when released, found their estates plundered.
Such were the prices paid so we may celebrate freedom every Fourth of July. (1)
We are indebted to these great men, who risked their reputations, fortunes, health and lives for the cause of freedom. Freedom they stated comes from our Creator, not from man.
In the 236 years since this important document was signed, wars have been waged, lives have been lost and people have sacrificed greatly to ensure that freedom still rings. The United States of America has been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world since its very inception. We’ve had good times and bad times. There are things we are proud of and things we are ashamed of. We’ve even nearly torn ourselves apart with a Civil War. But we have prevailed. God has seen us through.
This great nation isn’t perfect. There’s a lot we need to work on. And it won’t be easy. Still, it is a great nation and a land worth fighting for. It remains a beacon of hope and freedom to the rest of the world.
“In speaking tonight of America’s traditional values and philosophy of government, we must remember the most distinctive mark of all in the American experience: To a tired and disillusioned world, we’ve always been a New World and, yes, a shining city on a hill where all things are possible.
Our alliances, the strength of our democratic system, the resolve of free people-all are beginning to hold sway in the world. We’ve helped nourish an enthusiasm that grows each day, a burning spirit that will not be denied: Mankind was born to be free. The tide of the future is a freedom tide.” (President Ronald Reagan)
So it’s great to celebrate, eat lots, and spend time with family and friends. Just also please, let’s take a moment to remember why we’re celebrating. May God bless you and God bless America!
Happy 4th of July!
(1) Text above taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb