July 4th – our day of celebration of independence began back on June 11, 1776 at the Second Continental Congress held in Philadelphia. They gathered there to draft a document that would live in history. The final version of the document was officially adopted on July 4, 1776, and was distributed by the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6th.
What brought this monumental task to fruition? It was freedom of religion and taxation without representation – as dissatisfaction grew, British troops were sent in to stop any sign of rebellion. Repeated attempts by the colonists to resolve the crisis without war proved fruitless. The Continental Congress adopted the document that would sever ties between the colonies and Great Britain -that document was the Declaration of Independence.
A group of 58 men drafted this document – they were judges, lawyers, educators, authors, farmers, merchants, physicians, as well as a soldier and an ironmaster who gathered to write a document that would forever change this country and the world. They wrote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
Today … independence, freedom, and liberty are still the values our country holds dear. However, these values come with a price. In the past 233 years, our country has been through some very troubled times. First we fought the British for our independence and then again in the War of 1812. Along came the Civil War in which fathers and sons fought against each other, World War I (“the war to end all wars”), World War II (a continuation of the war to end all wars), the Cold War, police actions in Korea and Vietnam, Desert Storm 1 & 2 and now the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.
These wars and military actions have caused mothers and fathers to send their sons and daughters to foreign lands to fight for these same freedoms described so long ago. There were actions in Korea and Vietnam that we may not have understood while those actions were going on or even understand “why” today … but our young men and women answered the call of our nation with many paying the price for freedom with their lives. These veterans deserve to be held in our highest esteem for answering our country’s call to arms and for their part in maintaining freedom throughout the world.
I proudly wear my military uniform on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the 4th of July because it is a symbol of freedom. It signifies sacrifice, devotion to duty, love of country, service before self of these many American heroes. hey are just plain folks that stood for the values we hold dear today. They are the men and women that served this country before me and are serving our country now and will serve in the future. Those folks are the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines that go into harms way everyday so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers talked about and instituted in 1776.
So on this July 4th, take just a minute to remember those who have served over the past 230 years, your family or friends who served, your son or daughter that may be serving at the present time … take just a minute to say thanks to them for keeping our great nation free. Freedom is not free; it has been bought and paid for by folks just like you and me. May God bless the United States of America, its leaders, and its military serving in harm’s way. May God also bless the folks that make up this wonderful country where we live and work … called the United States of America.
Afton resident Dave Randall is a retired United States Air Force colonel.