Today you are probably planning to enjoy a long weekend with family, friends, food and fireworks. I am too.
But I want to take a moment to reflect on what Independence Day really means. I think this year is more meaningful to me since we've just visited some places our founders lived and worked. I've stood in the very spots that they walked on. And I am amazed beyond words at the enormity of their undertaking.
Those fifty-six brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew that by signing they were committing treason against the king and were therefore effectively signing their own death warrants. And yet, spurred on by strength of their convictions and an uncommon courage, they did sign and in so doing started the Revolution that would birth a new nation. Our nation.
These were ordinary men. Men with jobs and families and responsibilities. Men who wanted nothing more than to be left alone to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Men like you and me.
And yet they were men of extraordinary courage. Men who, when faced with difficult choices, chose to do the hard thing. The right thing. Men who were forced by their core values to not keep silent in the face of evil, oppression and tyranny. They were men of vision who foresaw the endless possibilities of a people who were free to pursue their dreams.
These fifty-six men were willing to sacrifice everything in the name of freedom. With "a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," they "mutually pledge[d] to each other [their] Lives, [their] Fortunes, and [their] sacred Honor." And many of them eventually sacrificed their livelihood, the lives of sons who felt called to join their fight, and even their own lives. They gave all that they had so that we could be all that we are.
Today, I would ask you to consider for a moment how easy it would have been for these men to keep silent, to go about their business and to continue to live under the rule of an unjust king. And then thank Our God Almighty that they did not.
I would also ask you to consider how easy it is for us today to take for granted the freedom we have and how easy it is to remain silent when we see our out-of-control government becoming the very thing our founders hated and despised, the very thing they were willing to die to escape. Yes, it would be easier to bury our heads in the sand, to go on about our daily lives. But someday will our children's children wonder what it was like to live in freedom?
May we remember the cost of freedom and may we not be quick to give it away.
May we be worthy of their sacrifice.