Friday, June 21, 2024


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News Article
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Learn and Make it Better

            There are many extremists in the United States today.  It seems like you can pick just about any controversial topic and there will be extremists trying to force or embarrass you into agreeing with them.

            But, extremism can have consequences.

            Most of our nation's founding fathers were extremists.  They rallied and united people to win their independence from England.  They lived in a different time, not subject to, or privileged to know what we've learned throughout history or the norms that we live by today. 

            We know that some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence went onto successful lives; two even occupied the office of the President of the United States.  Some of those signers suffered for their actions.

            Five were captured by the British and charged with treason.  Two lost their sons in the Continental Army.  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Another had two sons captured.  Nine of the signers fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the American Revolution.

            John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside when she was near death.  Their 13 children fled for their lives.  His fields and mill were destroyed.  While eluding the British, he often slept in forests and caves.  When he returned home in 1777, he found his wife had died and his children had vanished. 

            The British hounded Thomas McKean to the point where he had to constantly move his family.  He kept them in hiding while he served in the Continental Congress without pay.

            Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.  The British jailed his wife and she died within a few months of her capture.

            One by one, the British seized the ships of Carter Braxton.  He was forced to sell his plantations and mortgage properties to pay his mounting debts.  Eventually, his creditors seized his estate.  

            At the battle of Yorktown, British General Charles Cornwallis turned the family home of Thomas Nelson Jr. into his headquarters.  On the verge of the final siege that would secure the colonies' independence, Nelson urged General Washington to open fire on his own home.  At one time he was one of the richest men in Virginia.  His home was destroyed in the bombardment, and he later died penniless. 

            With a sizeable award already being offered for his arrest or capture, John Hancock signed the document in large, bold letters declaring that the "British Ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."  With those words and his signature, Hancock knowingly thrust his head into a possible noose and never backed down.

            The last line of the Declaration of Independence summarizes the uncompromising character of these men by their commitment to each other.  A promise that reads, "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

            In the fractured country we live in today, and knowing the attempts to minimize or erase their history of some 245 years ago, would they still be willing to make those sacrifices and suffer the consequences today.  Would we be where we are today without the sacrifices of so many throughout our history?

            None of them were perfect and they made mistakes and treated others in a way we loathe.  We must continue to learn from their mistakes, and ours, to make a better future for all.

            Even with our faults, which can and will be fixed, we should still be proud to be Americans.






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