Tony Note: with this past Monday being the 4th of July, I felt it appropriate to share this fascinating look back in time for this blog post. This originally appeared as a full-page ad placed in the July 3rd issue of USA Today a few years ago by businessman Morry Taylor. It’s a great reminder that long-lasting freedom always requires sacrifice and a few brave souls to start the revolution.
Our Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men.
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.
After 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.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: Freedom is never free!
The American Spirit and can-do attitude will prevail. Our Nation and our ideals will emerge stronger simply because, like men and women who came before us, we will step up to the plate and do what needs to be done time after time.