July 4, 2016

Independence Day: A Reason for Gratitude

Today, we Americans celebrate our hard-won independence from England. Most of us know the basic timeline:

  • Uprisings in Boston
  • First battles of the war at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts
  • Signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia by the 2nd Continental Congress
  • Various battles throughout many of the thirteen colonies
  • Hard winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
  • Surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia

That’s part of the rote history we learn in school. What we don’t always learn is how much the men and women of the day sacrificed for the cause of liberty. Now, let’s examine the vital human interest stories behind the dry facts of the birth of a nation:

Thomas Jefferson

This founding father was a prominent inventor and gentleman farmer on his estate in Virginia: Monticello. He loved the privileged country life. It suited his reserved, melancholy nature. Jefferson was prone to depression.

This great man wasn’t even 30 years old when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. He didn’t want the job, initially. He may have also found that the editing of the document was more work than the original writing of it. The members of the 2nd Continental Congress argued over practically every period and comma.

George Washington

He was a successful gentleman farmer and entrepreneur on his estate in Virginia: Mt. Vernon. He was also married to one of the richest ladies in Virginia, Martha Custis. He refused to take a salary as Commanding General of the Continental Army.

The Men of Boston

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, and Paul Revere were all Sons of Liberty (the underground patriot movement). We might consider the group that planned the Boston Tea Party to be undisciplined, uneducated extremists. In truth, the Sons of Liberty comprised a variety of social classes. Each of the four leaders listed above was an educated, prominent member of Boston society. They all contributed, in their own way, to the patriot cause:

 John Hancock was the wealthiest man in New England. He financed the Sons of Liberty.
Dr. Joseph Warren was one of the most respected surgeons in Boston. He also led a militia group. He died in the Battle of Bunker Hil.
Paul Revere was a silversmith who also dabbled in dentistry. He was in charge of getting information out to local and out-of-state patriots.
Samuel Adams was the cousin of future President of the United States, John Adams. He was the main organizer of anti-British activity in Boston.

Ben Franklin
He was the oldest founding father at 70 years old. He was one of the most influential newspaper publishers/owners in the country. This made him one of the wealthiest men in America. As a patriot, he even alienated his son, who didn’t share his political views.

My Conclusion

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”—Galatians 5:13

We are meant to be free. Whatever country we live in, may we remember that our freedom was bought at a great price. That’s why we must use our liberty responsibly. We shouldn’t just honor the outward displays, such as fireworks or documents. We must always remember the people who gave their lives, freedom, and riches to build a better future for us.

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Are you thankful for your freedom?

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