The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 2nd, 1776. On this day, 234 years ago, a small group of men dedicated themselves to a higher purpose, an ideal they believed in so greatly, they signed their name to its expression and in doing so put their very lives at risk.
By signing the Declaration of Independence, 56 men stood in direct defiance of the British government. Today as we all enjoy what freedom is left of what our forefathers tried to guarantee us, think of the extraordinary sacrifice of 56 extraordinary Americans.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence:
Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes burned to the ground. Two lost sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and two more had sons captured. Nine fought and died in the Revolutionary War. If you ever feel like your lone voice can never be heard, that the political system isn’t set up for “regular” Americans to change the course of history, remember: The signers were flesh and blood, mortal men with a divinely-inspired aim.
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers and large plantation owners. They were well educated, smart enough to know that by signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrants. They did it anyway, and God bless them for it.
As we enjoy our liberty this Independence Day, or any day this year, we must never take that liberty for granted. Too many have given too much. In the words of the Signers themselves, “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
The Signers asked for nothing in return for their pledge, but I say that we show our thanks with a pledge of our own: To remember, to be grateful, and to carry on in their spirit. America is the greatest country this world has ever known, and it will stay that way only so long as “we the people” remember that just like in 1776.