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July 4, 1776 -- The Fight for FreedomPosted Sunday, June 29, 2008, at 2:43 PM
The fight for freedom started in 1773 in Boston.
At the time, we were ruled by the British.
But, apparently, the Brits pushed us too far -- they imposed a tax on imported tea. Thus, an event called the Boston Tea Party took place whereby rebellious tea lovers masquerading as Indians stormed a ship and threw the tea overboard.
This act of public unruliness didn't sit well with King George, so British troops were sent to America to straighten us out.
On July 4, 1776, a bunch of men who didn't want to be straightened out held a meeting and hammered out a document called the Declaration of Independence.
When it was his turn to sign the document, Benjamin Franklin told his fellow delegates that anyone willing to sacrifice some of their freedom in order to gain a measure of security was entitled to neither.
John Hancock made the biggest signature, probably hoping to make a name for himself in the insurance business.
In all, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. Then they FedEx'd it to England and waited for a response. This started a confrontation that became known as the American Revolution.
Of the 56 men who signed, nine died from wounds or hardships of the war. Five were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Many of them lost their property to the enemy who looted their homes and burned them to the ground.
Francis Lewis not only lost his property but his wife was jailed and died a few months later.
John Hart was forced to leave the bedside of his dying wife. He hid in caves, for more than a year, while his wife died, his 13 children vanished and his property was destroyed.
Thomas Nelson had his home confiscated by British General Cornwallis. During the battle of Yorktown, he urged General Washington to open fire, destroying the home. Nelson died bankrupt.
Carter Braxton, a wealthy trader, lost his fleet of ships to the British Navy. He was forced to sell his home and possessions to pay off his bills. Broke and destitute, he died in rags.
We owe these 56 brave souls a great debt.
One way we can honor them is to make sure we continue the struggle for freedom because freedom is never free.
Crazed fanatics in foreign lands wish to destroy us. You cannot negotiate with or surrender to or hide from this type of insanity. As unpleasant as it is, we must confront those who are determined to exterminate us and we must prevail. It's called self-preservation.
On our own soil, our rights are continually under attack and slowly being eroded.
Our Constitution is meant to guarantee every American citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To this end, certain provisions were included called the Bill of Rights, detailing a set of basic freedoms. Its primary purpose is to protect us from an oppressive government.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are so fundamentally important that we would lose all other freedoms without them. We can't know truth without being free to express the truth.
The freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures has all but been eliminated. Our incessant war on drugs has given the government authority to break into our homes and seize our property almost at will. By doing so, we have given the government authority over our individual state of mind.
The right to bear arms is under constant attack. This provision was not written to permit us to hunt game; it was meant to allow us to protect ourselves from the rest of the world.
A right is not what someone gives you -- it's what you cannot allow to be taken from you.
Martin Luther King once said that if a man hasn't found something worth dying for, he has no reason to live.
Freedom is worth dying for.
Quote for the Day -- "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." Kris Kristofferson
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.