A friend sent me this, and I had to pass it along. I'm not sure of the original author, but if I find it, I'll provide proper credit. If there are typos, it's because I'm enjoying my holiday off and not paying attention:
Have you ever worndered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
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 serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well death would be the cost if 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 rags.
Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and LIvingston suffered similar fates.
These men gave you and me a free and independent America. Some of us take these liberties for granted, but we should respect their sacrifices and respect the liberties they fought and died for.
Take a few minutes out of your 4th, between the potato salad and fireworks...or between the fire crackers and the laying around on the beach....and remember those men who gave all so that you can stuff your face with BBQ, or watch those maniacs on ESPN do the same with hotdogs.
It's not much to ask for.
And remember, the people we're fighting in Iraq, don't want us to have these freedoms, and the people we're fighting side by side and for in Iraq, would like these freedoms as well. And they're making sacrifices every day as well.
Happy 4th, and thanks for being here.