Two hundred and twenty nine years ago a document was signed by fifty six men, and with the stroke of a pen the course of human history was fundamentally altered. That single document was the fontspring of all our rights and privileges, but have you ever looked into the fate of the founding fathers?
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 was a man of means when he signed the Declaration – but he died with little more then the clothing on his back. Thomas McKeam faced the same fate, losing all his wealth hiding his family from the British. 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.
Our Founding Fathers sacrificed everything they owned and risked everything they loved for the freedoms we now enjoy. Freedoms that have led to a nation without parallel in human history. But now we face another threat, one compounded by self serving groups bent on forcing their views on the body politic. The Declaration of Independence was signed by many of the leading minds of the day – but now the self appointed intelligentsia view patriotism as a low and empty exercise for the poor uneducated masses. Those same high minded “world citizens” are quick to say the United States is imperialistic, materialistic, and the genesis of every evil that plagues the modern world. I would probably be a little more inclined to listen to their mealy mouthed speeches if they had spent a single day here in the cradle of civilization.
Freedom is many things, but it is never banal. It is never cheap. It is never a birthright. It is a sacred trust, a blazing torch passed from one generation to the next and safeguarded by the combined efforts of an entire nation. I have seen some of Founding Fathers steely eyed resilience in my soldiers, and it gives me hope. As long as there are brave men and women manning the ramparts I know the flickering light of democracy will not easily burn out.