Today we are witnessing the destruction of property and removal of statues and monuments erected decades ago to honor many national heroes. I won’t question here whether the motives for these actions are justified. But as we celebrate Independence Day at a time when so much of American history is being disregarded, I want to dedicate today’s article to remind us of the incredible courage of our Founding Fathers, and the tremendous risk they took.
When the 56 men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, they were well aware that signing their names was extremely dangerous. But they believed that freedom meant sacrifice, even the sacrifice of their own lives. In fact, King George quickly proclaimed that their actions were “high treason” and ordered his soldiers to find and execute all 56 of them. More specifically, “the penalty for high treason was to be hanged by the head until unconscious, then cut down and revived, then disembowled and beheaded, then cut into quarters. Each quarter was to be boiled in oil. The remnants would be scattered abroad so that the last resting place of the offender would remain forever unnamed, unhonored and unknown.” (from “The Making of America”).
The writers of the Declaration of Independence also had the courage to blend politics and religion, pointing out that their individual rights were given to them by God. They appealed to the “supreme judge of the world” for the rectitude or rightness of principle or conduct, be allowed to have the rights that he had given them. They firmly trusted in “the protection of the divine Providence.”
On this Independence Day, I thank these heroes and God for our freedom, and I pray that God continues to bless our great country.