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The Declaration of Independence, signed 246 years ago, is celebrated whole-heartedly nationwide by businesses and citizens alike. “Independence Day” sales events blanket the airways and TV screens, folks line up picnics, go to rodeos or ballgames, watch fireworks, swim and eat watermelon, typically with a paid day off from work. Reason enough to cheer. It’s easy to focus on the here and now, enjoy the day with all its activities, but is essential, that we understand what we celebrate.
In 1775, the 13 Colonies along the eastern coast of North America were ruled by Great Britain. King George’s rule was overbearing and tyrannical, applicably titled Despotism by the colonists, to the point it prohibited the colonists reasonable pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. After attempts by the colonists to reconcile these differences, hostilities between the crown and the colonials broke out on April 19, 1775 at Lexington and Concord. Fifteen months later, 56 delegates from all 13 colonies met at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and unanimously agreed to and signed the Declaration of Independence, separating the colonies from Great Britain’s rule.
By signing the Declaration of Independence, these men signed their death warrants. They were at war, this was treason, punishable by death. The odds of them going to war and being victorious against Britain, was like our high school football team taking on the Dallas Cowboys. Our forefathers willingly did this because they believed that man (humanity) had unalienable rights to liberty through self government, by the consent of the governed. And to this, they signed, “with a reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Almost all signers took part in the revolution, all but two of the signers were considered comfortably wealthy. They were delegates or representatives sent by each of the 13 colonies. These were early day representatives of the people, by the people, who were willing to stand by what they said.
Our forefathers sought liberty, freedom. After eight years of struggle, they won it. A number of the signers paid with their lives and even more lost everything including family members. Two hundred and forty six years later we are the benefactors of their willingness to stand up and take action. For 246 years many of you, as well as our sons and daughters have carried the torch of freedom, by serving, preserving, protecting and defending our way of life.
During our history there’s been periods of extreme struggle, difficulty and division. We’ve overcome, understanding that there is more that unites us than divides us and by working as joint citizens of these United States of America. I’m grateful and thankful for the blessings of liberty we share, and pray that our grandchildren’s children will share that understanding and carry the torch of freedom, liberty and unity for this nation. The good ol USA, Happy Birthday!
God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.
Ben T. Briscoe