Happy Birthday America
On the Fourth of July, 2013 the United States of America is celebrating its 237th birthday. America's Independence day was best expressed in a quotation from the Virginia Gazette on July 18th, 1777 which proclaimed:
"Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen."
Two hundred thirty-five years ago a few men gathered in congress in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence. With the stroke of a pen the course of human history was fundamentally altered. That single document was the foundation of all the rights and privileges of Americans and became the 'birth certificate' of a nation without parallel in human history.
The nation born that day has done more to shape the course of world events than any other before or since. It is an amazing story of tenuous beginnings, struggle, sacrifice and success. Throughout that history the ideals of individual freedom and liberty have never been forsaken. Nor has the sacrifice needed to maintain that freedom been ignored.
The perils faced by the signers of the Declaration of Independence foretold what would be required in the future to maintain the freedoms sought. Our Founding Fathers sacrificed everything they owned and risked everything they loved for the freedoms that Americans now enjoy. For the signers of that document, the major concerns at the time were for their very lives and the lives of their families. Nine of the signers died from wounds suffered in the Revolutionary War. Five signers were captured by the British and charged as traitors - facing cruel torture before being executed. Another two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War.
The privations didn't end there. Another eight signers had their homes looted, their possessions scattered to the four winds. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He never recovered, and, in 1786, was forced to leave his inherited country estate for simple quarters in Richmond. He died at age 61. Thomas McKeam faced the same fate, losing all his wealth hiding his family. Others weren't even able to protect their families. Hart, Norris, and Livingston lost everything they held dear in the world… their home, their land, and their cherished families.
At 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.
Throughout the history of the nation, men and women have stepped forward to protect the freedom declared on that day in 1776. It has been ever so and will be in the future. Ronald Reagan has warned us; "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
We are thankful that present day patriots stand ready to insure that will not happen.
From across the seas we look back to America and wish you Happy Birthday.
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