Each July 4, we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, barbecues, and sales. How often do we think about the great cost of adopting this document that birthed our nation?
Signed by 56 men comprised of teachers, farmers, ministers, sailors, university professors, and business men each took upon himself the possibility of execution by the British government for treason.
As the great responsibility of their actions loomed ahead, Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers and the man labeled the father of American Medicine wrote to John Adams in 1781:
“Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the House when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe to what was believed by many at that time to be our death warrants? The silence and gloom of the morning was interrupted, I well recollect, only for a moment by Colonel Harrison of Virginia (a big guy) who said to Mr. Gerry (small in stature) at the table: 'I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing... From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.' This speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.”
This young country not only had no organized army at this time, there also were no financial resources to fund a war. No other country wanted to take a chance on financing a fledgling republic against the British monarchy and suffer future repercussions. For three years, the young American government was funded by individuals who risked and lost all they had to secure the independence of the colonies. France and Holland finally saw the investment was worth the risk after some colonial victories.
Homes were torched, families were separated, health deteriorated, and ultimately lives were lost in the midst of much suffering. Our independence came at a great price.
May we continue to fight to retain the freedoms these great men of valor purchased for succeeding generations. It’s because of their faith in God, their integrity, and their love for freedom that they had the strength and determination to stand for the rights the Bible promised each one of us.
God bless America!
What does Independence Day mean to you?