As we celebrate the 234th Birthday of our United States of America, it is fitting to reflect on the heroic acts of our Founding Fathers. 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. By doing so, these men freely and willingly committed high treason. It is easy to picture an antique document, concluded with 56 signatures; and those names are only ink on a faded parchment. But the men who dipped quill into ink made a larger impact than simply signing their names. They chose to do what was noble, regardless of the consequences.
The second and third Presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were among those who signed. The remaining names are of average men, chosen by their fellow colonists to represent them. Not presidents, war heroes or famed politicians, but merchants, farmers, lawyers, ministers, doctors; men who jeopardized everything for the cause of freedom. They are rarely mentioned in classrooms, books, or films, but, none the less, are our Founding Fathers. By signing, they became fugitives and traitors, and all were subsequently hunted and punished for their courageous defiance.
Patriots like Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr. were held as POWs, and treated with additional cruelty in the Revolutionary War. William Ellery, Louis Morris, Francis Lewis, and George Clymer, among others, saw their home estates pillaged, damaged, or destroyed. What they had spent their entire lives building and working for was ripped from them by the British Crown. Some paid an even higher price. John Hart, Francis Lewis, Abraham Clark and other signers saw their families receive brutal treatment; Children kidnapped and mistreated, wives atrociously abused, even killed.
These men gave their estates, their families, their sanity, and ultimately their lives. They did so because they knew they were fighting towards a cause greater than themselves. Throughout all the malicious and vindictive acts that were done to them, they remained steadfast in their beliefs, and devoted to their cause.
Happy Fourth of July. May you celebrate and pay tribute to the common men who believed in freedom so deeply that they put their lives in danger and took part in the birth of a new nation. This nation was founded on liberty, and these men were willing to sacrifice everything for that. We should lead our lives with pride and gratitude for the courageous 56, who demonstrated how precious our liberty truly is.