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56 Men

July 1, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Any man who is afraid of failure will never win;

Any man who is afraid to die, will never truly live."

-General George S. Patton

Article Photos

This coming July 4th, our nation celebrates freedom. The Declaration of Independence was a statement that the thirteen American colonies, at war against Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire. Since then, this declaration is considered to be a major statement on human rights, especially its' second statement:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator With certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. By signing it, they knew that each one of their lives was in danger. We enjoy our freedom today and will acknowledge it in a national celebration this July 4th. But have you ever wondered what happened to these 56 men?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned to the ground. They lost everything. Two of these men lost their sons in the War, while another had both of his sons captured and tortured. Nine of the fifty-six died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. These 56 men signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for you and me. And for all those before us and who will come after us.

Each man absolutely knew that by signing this precious document, that the penalty of death would be their sentence if they were captured. One of the signers, Carter Braxton was a wealthy trader who watched his ships sunk by the British Navy. He had to sell his home and everything he owned to pay off his debts. He died in rags. Thomas McKean, another signer, moved his family over twenty times to stay in hiding. He served in Congress without pay. Everything he owned was eventually taken from him and he and his family lived in poverty as their reward for signing.

Thomas Nelson, Jr., found out that British General Cornwallis had taken over his magnificent home for his headquarters. Nelson went to General George Washington and quietly asked him to open fire on his home and everything in it. The home was destroyed and he died several years later totally bankrupt. Francis Lewis saw his home and everything he owned in the world destroyed. His wife was sent to jail where she died without ever seeing her husband again. John Hart was arrested in his home as he was taking care of his dying wife. Their 13 children fled for their lives in every direction. His home and farmland was burned to the ground. He lived for over a year on the run, hiding in forests and caves. Finally he returned home to find nothing. His wife had died and he never found any of his children again. Upon finding he had lost all, Hart simply died a few weeks later.

Several other of the signers suffered very similar fates. Losing family and possessions. Each one of these men has their own story.

These are just a few of the stories from the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. They were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing men. They were men of wealth and security. They simply valued freedom and liberty more. They gave you and me a free and independent America. Fifty-six men who banded together to forge a document that still stands strong and tall today. History books tend to forget that each one of these men had their own individual story. It was not easy. It cost everything.

Today, our men and women in the Armed Forces do the very same thing with the exception that they try to keep the battlefield away from our homes. This 4th of July, please recognize our Veterans, the Flag and the Marching Band playing our National Anthem. Stand, take off your hats, shed a tear or two and for God's sake----SING! Be proud that you're an American. Have a great holiday! That's The Way I See It. Let me know how you see it at jsheda@indytel.com.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort,

But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

 
 

 

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