This & That

Story published: 06-26-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Swift elaborates on Independence Day and American freedom

By Jack Swift

With the Fourth of July on the horizon, I thought I would follow up on last week’s column with a bit more of the history and happenings leading up to and including the signing of the Declaration of Independence as well as the aftermath of the Revolutionary War which ended with the original Thirteen Colonies free and independent from British rule. The colonists detested Britain’s taxation without representation and other of King George’s edict.

The War lasted seven years, from 1775 until 1783. In October 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown under siege by American and French forces led by General George Washington and General De Rochambeau respectively. The battle of Yorktown was the final major battle of the war and it insured a victory for the colonists.

On a personal note, I visited the Yorktown Battlefield when I was in the Army while stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1962. It is an impressive site and what happened there was a turning point in history. On the battlefield is a palisade — a fence made of sharpened stakes set close together that point away at an angle.

What would have happened if the British had won?

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia at 2:00 p.m. on July 4th. Writing to his wife Abigail John Adams said, “It ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bell, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other...” Adams would follow George Washington as the second president of the then United States of America.

As mentioned before, the signers risked their lives and fortune and they knew it. Some were persecuted because of their loyalty and perseverance. Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons who served in the Army. One had two sons captured. Nine suffered from wounds or hardship because of their stand. Of the 56 who signed the document, twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers or plantation owners. They were well-educated men and some of them quite wealthy.

We hear often the words, “Freedom isn’t free.” How true those words are. Even today, there are those who are serving across the world in the U. S. Armed Forces. Many of them are in harms way as they carry out their mission. I think it is important to remember them and salute them for their sacrifice — all the time, but especially on Independence Day. Too, there are those who have served and some who gave the supreme sacrifice so that we as a nation can be free. Let us remember and honor them as we approach the Fourth of July.