Each July 4th, Independence Day, reminds us of America’s history. I recently read an article regarding the lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. What the article made clear is the sacrifice made by each and every one of the signers.
Five of the signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and another had two sons that were captured. Nine of the fifty-six died from wounds and hardships of the Revolutionary War. They had signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor so that a great country can be formed.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and large plantation owners. They were men of means, well-educated, but they still signed the Declaration of Independence knowing that they could pay the ultimate price; the penalty would be death if the British found and captured them.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the sea by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and he died in rags. Thomas McKean was so hunted by the British that he was forced to constantly move his family. He served in Congress without pay and kept his family in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward. The homes of many of them were vandalized and soldiers looted their property.
Throughout this time, many tragedies took place in the lives of each individual who signed the Declaration of Independence. It is time to enjoy and understand the real meaning of the 4th of July holiday and thank those Patriots for their actions and the price they paid. Remember, freedom is never free and will never be free. Thanks to those early Patriots, as well as today’s Patriots now fighting to help us all keep our freedoms.
Because of the years I spent in the military, I have a very strong feeling about protecting our freedoms. Our forefathers created the greatest form of government that has ever existed, and granted all of us our freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Today, the understanding of what is required to keep us free is not as clear as it once was to our forefathers. We must continue to honor those who sacrifice for us, so we can continue to live in this free country.
As you are eating your hotdogs and apple pie, and enjoying a spectacular fireworks display, I hope you take a moment and understand the meaning of the day and reflect on what sacrifices many have given through the years. We are free. Let us give thanks.
Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner, Dan R. Morris.
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