The Cost of Pursuing Freedom:
Reflections on Independence Day
by Rick Stanley - June 27, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2002
EDITORIAL OPINION PIECE
Stanley for U.S. Senate Campaign
The Cost of Pursuing Freedom:
July 4, 1776 is the day that the Continental Congress of the United States introduced to the world one of our most cherished and valuable documents of freedom, the Declaration of Independence. Since that time, July 4th has been celebrated as the anniversary of Americas independence from the British Empire.
What would your family say about Independence Day? If your youngest child asked you, "What makes July 4th different and more special than any other holiday?" what would you answer?
With growing hostility between the budding American colonies and the British Empire, colonists were led to list and post their grievances against King George III in demonstration of the reasons why Great Britain had forfeited her right to rule. The colonists were choosing to separate themselves from their own past in order to establish a new beginning and a new life free from tyrannical government. The Declaration was drafted and written based on firm truths and convictions of what a republic and constitutional government should be composed of, and how it should function. It was written with the perspective of future generations in mind, to ensure their freedoms and rights. It was written with purpose that no American should at any time dare to take their freedoms for
56 patriots, men of honor, courage, and conviction, banded together to draft into finality the destiny of their lives and their countrys. Recounting their names, the signers were
from Connecticut, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott;
from Delaware, Caesar Rodney, George Read, and Thomas McKean;
from Georgia, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton;
from Massachusetts, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, and Elbridge Gerry;
from Maryland, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton;
from New Hampshire, Josiah Barlett, William Whipple, and Matthew Thornton;
from New Jersey, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, and Abraham Clark;
from New York, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, and Lewis Morris;
from North Carolina, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn;
from Pennsylvania, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson and George Ross;
from Rhode Island, Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery;
from South Carolina, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr, Thomas Lynch, Jr and Arthur Middleton;
and from Virginia, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr, Francis Lightfoot Lee and Carter Praxton.
These men were true champions for freedom and human rights since the beginnings of the nation called the United States of America. Their courageous words -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" -- have rung loud and clear for generations, and cannot be snuffed out at the whim of present legislative bodies. The choice they made, to found America on republican principles, is what gave America her greatest strengths. The principle that the government is for the people, of the people and by the people means that the government is here to serve the people, and that all people from every, and any walk of life or culture have the right to be informed on all issues facing this nation, and then to add to that information, the right to vote, that their voice and vote, may be heard and acted upon in the governing bodies. However, illicit power, greed, apathy, inconsistency and unconstitutionality have plagued the governing bodies of today, and continues to run rampant, disregarding the rights of the citizens of America.
These men, 56 patriots, were willing at the cost of their lives, to tell a dictatorship "NO MORE." Where are the patriots of today? What are they willing to say to this unconstitutional government?
One of our founding Patriots, Benjamin Franklin, said "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
John Adams realized the effect of separating from England and what it would mean to this country and to himself personally. He wrote: "If it be the pleasure of heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, and that a free country!"
Patriots of today must not give in to the fear, and allow this unconstitutional government to stay. It is the patriotic duty of every citizen to exercise the right of freedom of speech, and to petition the government for grievances against their unconstitutional policies, principles and laws, political manipulations, and foreign policy transgressions.
In a letter written by Alexander Hamilton to James Baynard in April 1802, we read: "In my opinion, the present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banner bona fide must we combat our political foes, rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provided for amendments. By these general views of the subject have my reflections been guided."
Each citizen must determine for themselves what they are willing to die for and willing to live to defend in order that this nation may once again be established as the great country it is under constitutional government and constitutional laws. What cause is worthy, noble and honorable enough that one would be willing to be arrested for it? To be willing to be imprisoned for it, and if necessary to be willing to die for it? I believe that defending and protecting our rights and freedoms guaranteed us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is worth that much, and more.
Of the 56 Patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, 12 had their homes ransacked and burned to the ground. Five were captured by the British, condemned as traitors and tortured before being put to death. Nine fought and died from fatal wounds or personal hardships as a direct result of the Revolutionary War. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and one had two sons captured by the British.
24 of these patriots were lawyers and jurists. 11 of them were merchants, and nine were farmers and plantation owners. Thomas McKean was so harassed by the British that he and his family were forced into transient living and hiding. He served the first Congress without pay, and his possessions were taken from him, plunging him into poverty. The properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge and Middleton were vandalized and plundered. Carter Braxton, a merchant trader and farmer, saw his ships destroyed by the British Navy and was forced to sell his home and properties to pay his debts. He died penniless. The home and property of Francis Lewis was destroyed; his wife was jailed by the British, and she died in their prison. Thomas Nelsons home was taken over by the British at Yorktown for their personal headquarters and through Nelsons own urging to General Washington, Washington did open fire and destroy his home and possessions Nelson went bankrupt. John Hard and his 13 children were driven by the British from their home and from the side of a dying wife and mother. The fields and mill he owned were wasted by the British He died broken-hearted and exhausted. Norris and Livingston experienced similar fates. These men lived their words:
How can any Patriot today fail to honor the sacrifices of those who have gone before, or ignore the importance of opportunities presented today to preserve our liberties, our rights and our independence? I am passionate about patriotism and the virtues such as liberty and independence that are part of being a patriot. I consider it my obligation, and right to speak forth my opinions concerning the current state of affairs our government has fallen into, and the magnitude of the loss of our freedoms, our liberties and rights that are daily being swept away by legislative tides. I do not know what paths or destinies others are taking, but I do know that my destiny, in part, is forged by the painful truth that our government has acted with treachery and disloyalty to its citizens, and I must respond no matter what personal sacrifices may be involved.
That is why the Bill of Rights Rallies must continue to petition the government and increase in every U.S. city, and it is why the Million Gun March must become a reality. It is why I, along with other modern day Patriots, will tell my children and my grandchildren that I choose to represent my country as a citizen legislator, for the reestablishment of the freedoms and rights of all Americans, and for the restoring of the constitutional government of the United States of America.
On July 4th, what will you tell your children and their children?
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