To the editor- Freedom is never free
To the editor:
On Independence Day, July 4, have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Two hundred twenty-five years ago, five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died, 12 had their homes and properties destroyed and burned, two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners – men of means, well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rage.
Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he moved his family constantly. He served in Congress without pay. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
Soldiers and vandals looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Heyward, Gwinnett, Ruttledge and Middleton at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that British Gen. Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters; he quietly urged Gen. George Washington to open fire, the home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home destroyed, so did John Hart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed rabble-rousing ruffians, they were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t fight just the British, we were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government. Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn’t.
So take a few minutes while enjoying your Fourth of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: Freedom is never free!
South Lake Tahoe
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