A Cause for Celebration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 2, 2006

To the Editor:

This July 4th, our country celebrates its 230th year since declaring our independence from England. The Declaration itself set in motion a war that lasted 8 long years. The outcome was dubious at best and it took raw courage on the part of the colonist to buck mighty England. It took resolve and perseverance to stay the course and see it to fruition.

The 56 signers of the Declaration were aware of the consequences should they be caught by the British. At first, not all members of the Continental Congress were in favor of a formal Declaration of Independence. However, some were, and it is said that one member rode 80 miles on horseback to Philadelphia to break a tie for independence.

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The decision to declare independence wasn’t an easy one and it split more than one family. After Benjamin Franklin was chastised by the English Foreign Ministry in London, he returned to America and began working for independence. His son, William, became the Royal Governor of New Jersey, 1762-1776, and a devout Loyalist. William remained loyal to the crown and even after capture and spending two years in prison, traveled to New York, and thence back to England. The great divide between Ben and his son William never healed. William remained in England and worked on Loyalist causes.

Oddly enough, July 4th wasn’t declared a legal holiday until 1941. Most people think of it as a time for family and friends, backyard barbeques, sand lot softball, boating on the river or just spending some leisure time. All of the above is well and good, but seriously, Independence Day is the product of tremendous sacrifice, and loss of life by many of our founding countrymen.

The freedom and independence we celebrate has never been free. It is an ideal defended by men and women of great courage and conviction who refuse governance except by self determination and representation. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who placed principles above personal safety and well being.

It would have been much easier for the colonist to have said it is the wrong war at the wrong time. A war with England will cost too much. England is too powerful and we are too weak. Why should we fight and die to escape the bonds of King George? But most did not, they were brave men, noble men, principled men, men who longed for liberty.

In a speech delivered by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention he said: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

We must be vigilant in our defense of freedom. We dare not become complacent and weary of the struggle. A lot could be learned from our forefathers who fought the American Revolution. Against what appeared to be overwhelming odds, they would not be denied freedom.

God Bless this great nation and those willing to defend it.

James G. Smith

Public Relations Officer

The American Legion Post 20