Today we celebrate America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain’s oppression and her establishment as a new nation conceived in liberty.
History reveals that the Second Continental Congress actually voted to approve the resolution of independence on July 2, 1776 which was the occurrence of the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain. Congress then turned its attention to debate on the Declaration of Independence, and after revising the wording of the document produced by the Committee of Five with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author, it was approved on July 4, 1776. Since the date on the Declaration of Independence is July 4, 1776, we celebrate American independence on that date instead of the actual date of independence on July 2, 1776.
History also reveals that declaring our independence from Great Britain was a lot easier than securing that independence, which took eight long years of hard-fought bloody war and the deaths of thousands of Patriots so that we today may enjoy parades, speeches, cookouts, ball games, and fireworks in celebration of American independence. The independence gained from that war belongs forever to those Patriots who fought to secure it and who have graciously handed it down from one generation to the next, carefully entrusting it with the warning that it must be defended with blood. And so it has, as each generation has had to fight and die for its preservation. It sounds trite, but freedom is not free, and its cost is the highest of anything – American lives. We pay that cost because freedom is our most valuable possession, the value of all else paling in comparison.
Most Americans today will celebrate American independence as some vague notion they don’t really understand as they’ve never had to sacrifice to preserve it, while some will see it merely as a day off from work, but some veterans will know what it means to fight for the concept of American independence. They will stand at attention and salute the flag remembering past battles and heroic deeds, lost comrades, and the pride of duty, honor, and sacrifice for a country that seems less and less grateful, but noble concepts just the same. You see, they went to war for their country, but they fought for their lives and the lives of their friends, and they fought because they didn’t want anyone thinking they were cowards, and they certainly weren’t.
These veterans are the ones who received the gift of independence from the preceding generation, protected it on their watch, and handed it down to the next generation of veterans. They ask for no appreciation, although it is humbly received. All they ask is that we continue to respect our freedom and not foolishly trade it away for the illusion of safety. Our Patriots have sacrificed too much blood in the cause of independence and its preservation for us to arrogantly toss away our liberty for comfort and safety. This liberty is not ours to trade, yet we act as if it is.
The greatest threat to America has always been from within. We have always had the ability to cast aside our differences to fight against foreign invaders, but we have lost the ability to resist the lure of domestic usurpers who nibble away at our freedom resulting in it being removed just as surely as if it were by the hand of a foreign power. It matters not when you are enslaved whether you masters are foreign or domestic, for you are still enslaved. Whether it is Great Britain taxing us and ruling over us at will, or whether it is our own federal government taxing us and ruling over us at will, the result is still that we are being taxed and ruled over by someone and our lives are not our own to live freely.
It would behoove us to contemplate the tremendous sacrifice of those Patriots who fought a war impossible to win against the greatest military power on the planet all because of some minor taxes and a few laws that wouldn’t even get our attention today. How have we allowed ourselves to become so complacent that we now appear to work for our government instead of it working for us? Our wealth and comfortable lifestyles have dulled our desire to live as free men unencumbered by oppressive government. We become more angered by poor service at a restaurant than by poor government that ruins our economy, threatens our liberty, and weakens us around the world.
If it were possible for our Founding Fathers to visit America today and see the country they established, they would be amazed at the level of wealth and prosperity produced by capitalist Americans freely engaged in the pursuit of their happiness, and they would be shocked by the size of our government and its appetite for our resources. They would point to the prosperity and say this is what we wanted then point to our gargantuan government and say not this! In that moment, our pride would turn to shame as well it should.
God bless America and keep her from harm!